A new report is released today highlighting the inequalities that certain communities face when accessing parks and natural spaces near to where they live. Developed by a group of 23 charities and organisations – including Disability Rights UK – set up under Natural England’s National Outdoors for All Working Group (NOfAWG). The ‘Out of Bounds: Equity in Access to Urban Nature’ report has found that, while people from all walks of life value and see the importance of regular access to nature, not all places and spaces are equal in what they can offer local communities. The purpose of the report is to examine the evidence on which groups use parks and greenspaces the most, and highlight the barriers that prevent people living in deprived areas, the elderly, Disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic communities from accessing their local outdoor provision.
Key findings reveal that Covid-19 has widened the inequality gap and people from low-income areas, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and Disabled people are among the groups that miss out on the full benefits of urban nature. Reasons for this inequality is highlighted throughout the report ranging from a lack of parks and greenspaces, to issues such as accessibility and safety concerns.
The report challenges organisations managing parks and green spaces to do more to ensure equal access for all parts of the community. The organisations involved are committed to reimagining the role of parks and green spaces in urban neighbourhoods, putting communities and local people at the forefront of decision-making when it comes to their design and management. This will help efforts to strengthen local economies, improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of local people as well as tackling climate change and protecting the environment.
Anna Denham, Get Yourself Active Programme Manager commented on the significance of the report:
“Urban green spaces are important for everyone’s health and wellbeing. They offer a wealth of physical and mental health benefits, particularly for people who have the most to gain from them, including Disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. They offer a space to take physical exercise, to meet with friends, and to simply breathe in some fresh air, whilst absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of nature. It is therefore vital that we ensure that everyone has equal access to these much needed spaces. This report is an important step to that aim.”
Accompanying the report, is a set of case studies and personal stories, including some from members and representatives of Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs), that were co-produced with the Get Yourself Active team at Disability Rights UK. They will be hosted on a “rotational” basis on Groundwork’s website and released as a “mini-series” on the “Stories page” of the Get Yourself Active website. The stories are important as they highlight both the barriers to accessing greenspaces in urban areas – which are often attitudinal – and the solutions, which are so often embedded in co-production. Often all that is needed is for someone in a position of power to see things from a different perspective, to listen and to take action to rectify something and make things equitable.
Our thanks to everyone who shared their story and to the DPULOs that helped to put us in touch: Disability Sheffield and Ann-Marie, Caroline, Derek and Zanib; Disability Peterborough, their Walk on Wednesdays (WOW) group and Nene Park Trust; Wheels for Wellbeing and their clients who allowed us to link to their stories on their website, particularly Kay (Liverpool) and Kay (London). This week, on our “Stories” page we share the first of our four “Stories from Sheffield”, from Ann-Marie, the “Rivelin Warrior”….
Image is courtesy of C. Waugh