Parks look to break down barriers

Conference promotes ethnic and social inclusion in parks

Goodwill to improve user diversity in UK parks and open spaces is welcomed but more needs to be done, delegates at a GreenSpace conference heard last week. More than 150 parks professionals heard about inclusion developments for different social and ethnic groups at the Breaking Down the Barriers event in Bristol. Chief executive Judy Ling Wong of the Black Environment Network praised urban authorities for raising the agenda on the social benefits of open spaces but felt there was still work to be done. She said: “Britain’s ethnic groups are more integrated in culture than others — it’s the white population that needs more integration into society. “There’s so much goodwill in the white population but goodwill alone is never enough. It needs to be turned into action.” She also urged decision-makers to get ethnic minorities involved in parks’ infrastructure at an advisory or committee-member level. Access Association president Eamon McClelland said that robust assessment audits of community needs are required to develop local open space standards for improving inclusion and diversity. He added: “You cannot get a ‘one size fits all’ standard. What you can do is seek advice from bodies such as ourselves on your local situation. “Standards set out for one area cannot be carried out elsewhere. You need to consult locally. “People are not uniform. Assessing local needs and wishes is essential for planning ahead.”

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