Our parks…

We went along to the Eco Fayre at Grays Town Park today (Sunday 26.9) – this was organised in conjunction with the Friends of Grays Town Park. It was a small but friendly event in a park that is now looking a lot better than it has done for a long while. We had some interesting conversations with people, handed out a few copies of the Alternative Estuary ‘zine and found three more projects to link to on this blog – here they are:

The Refill Cabin

Orchards Community Forum (Grays) – Facebook


It was a rewarding visit and good to see what’s happening in Grays and across Thurrock in terms of grassroots projects and ethical businesses.

For a variety of reasons, it’s been a fair while since we’ve been to Grays Town Park. The last time we were there was before the Friends of Grays Town Park were formed. Suffice to say, back then it was looking shabby and not very welcoming. When we went along for the Eco Fayre, we had a walk round the park first. It’s obviously a work in progress and having experience of being volunteers at Hardie Park in Stanford-le-Hope, it always will be! Having said that, the difference compared to our last visit was noticeable, with the park looking better tended and away from the Eco Fayre, a good number of locals enjoying what the park had to offer on a warm autumn day.

Residents do value their local parks. If they see them neglected by the local council, a point will be reached where they will start to take matters into their own hands to turn the situation around. This has been the case for a long while as this article shows: FRIENDS OF GROUPS: Valuing the work of Friends – July 7, 2019. With austerity hitting local authority budgets, the work of ‘friends of’ groups is ever more important to save and enhance what are vital community assets.

When a park has a ‘friends of’ group playing a role in its care and enhancement, it will be onwards and upwards from that point. That in part is down to them being able to access funding streams and grants that local authorities can’t. It’s also down to local companies being willing to donate money and/or materials to a ‘friends of’ group where they can see what impact that will have. Also, there’s the passion and graft the residents will put in to preserve and enhance what they see as their park.

How vital local parks are to our mental and physical wellbeing has become even clearer during the lockdowns and travel restrictions that kept many of us confined to our neighbourhoods. This is what we had to write about the value of our local parks in the early stages of the lockdowns last year: Valuing our parks – May 1, 2020.

The point is, local parks are vital community assets. The more input local residents have in the running and enhancement of parks through ‘friends of’ groups the better. This is not just about the physical aspect of a park but also the role they have in building a sense of community. In these weird and troubled times, this is really important. Also, it’s bringing a bit more power down to the grassroots and that’s something we really do like:)


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