The trust, which has been asked to join the Government’s new Parks Action Group, also announced today by new parks minister Marcus Jones, has demonstrated a direct correlation between visits to parks and green spaces and health and well-being.
The charity cross-referenced existing data from Defra and Natural England's Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey with a fresh survey of 4,033 people. If found a link between an individual’s use of parks and green spaces and an improvement in health and well-being, as measured by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) criteria of general health and its four well-being questions - life satisfaction, sense of worth, happiness and anxiety.
On average, the more frequently people visit parks and green spaces, the higher they record well-being. The charity said this showed that the most practical and effective use of an individual’s time would be to visit their local park or green space at least once a week to gain most of the health and well-being benefits. "If it is ‘Five a day’ for fruit and veg then it is ‘Once a week’ for parks," it said.
The analysis also demonstrates the importance of parks and green spaces as venues for community connections, helping to reduce the risk of loneliness. Families are also twice as likely (33%) to be users of parks than non-users (18%).
Chief executive, Helen Griffiths said she welcomed the Parks Action Group "We are looking forward to furthering our work with colleagues across the sector to ensure that we value parks and green spaces and take account of the vital contribution they make to local communities."
Fields in Trust is also launching a people’s choice award this week, the UK’s Best Park Award, which is open to all local green spaces across the UK and will be decided by public vote.