GreenSpace conference urges parks staff to help break down barriers to outdoor places

Ouick-fix solutions are not the answer to tackling the problem of improving access to parks and green spaces for ethnic minority communities.

That was the message from the GreenSpace conference held yesterday at Reading Town Hall.
The GreenSpace conference - Reaching Out - examined why ethnic minority groups might not access parks and how the challenges could be overcome.
Chairing the conference was GreenSpace trustee and former Leeds City Council parks manager Denise Preston.
"We all know how beneficial parks and green spaces are to health and wellbeing and, for most of us, we know our black and ethnic minority (BME) communities do not use parks as much as they should," said Denise Preston.
A series of presentations highlighted the issues facing BME groups in accessing parks, and looked at projects working on engaging people from different communities to enjoy their local green spaces.
GreenSpace chief executive Paul Bramhill said: "Despite their easily accessible nature, representation and participation of minority ethnic groups in parks is often limited, and does not always reflect the ethnic profile of the local population."
Speakers at the conference included the Black Environment Network's heritage access officer James Friel, Birmingham City Council's nature conservation and sustainability manager Nick Grayson, and Country Parks for All project officer Zohra Mahmoud.
Sheffield Hallam University associate lecturer in sustainable development and Sheffield Black Ethnic Minority Environmental Network officer Maxwell Ayamba described the barriers facing BME communities and urged delegates to help overcome the challenges.
Site visits to local parks Cintra Park and Prospect Park were also organised as part of the GreenSpace conference, which included workshops on ethnic diversity in allotment gardening and in friends groups.

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