Reader Panel - What should Government do to promote health through green space?

Green space and health leaders met last week to look at the health benefits of outdoor spaces but many felt that the Government could do more to promote the agenda.

Representative

"The first thing the Government needs to do is work with the green space sector to make health commissioners aware of the facilities in our parks.

"They can then work together to promote the culture of open spaces, share responsibilities and avoid overburdening local authorities.

"I still get the idea health officials don't take on the importance of green space in the treatment of illness."

John Kerry, committee member, National Federation of Parks & Green Spaces

Consultant

"The Government and NHS need pilot projects to see the difference made by using forest schools, city farms and adventure playgrounds.

"Once we have a good evidence base, we can make a stronger case for investing to stop our parks falling to pieces and prove they are crucial to the health agenda.

"The Government needs to twin this by beefing up planning. Sports pitches tend to be protected up to the eyeballs but health is about scraps of small wastelands."

Tim Gill, writer, researcher and consultant

Parks manager

"Rather than looking at how much parks cost to run, the Government needs to focus on the cost to society if a park is lost.

"The savings that healthy, outdoor living can bring to the Government are real and huge, so a little investment in infrastructure and access would go a long way.

"In Belfast we have park 'hubs' with outdoor gyms, community gardens and allotments to encourage physical activity."

Michael Largey, community parks manager, Belfast City Council

Head of parks

"The Government needs to value how underused parks have become. A third of families rarely visit them.

"The issues are about educating people on the benefits of using green spaces and investing not just in infrastructure but in revenue.

"Fewer people are going on holidays and your park is right on your doorstep. But it has to be worth going to and that, sadly, means a little more investment is needed."

Michael Rowan, head of parks, London Borough of Tower Hamlets.


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