Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best New Funding Initiative

Winner - Sheffield City Council, Parks and Countryside Service for Public Health Funding in Sheffield's Parks and Countryside

Sheffield City Council, Parks and Countryside Service

Sheffield City Council decided to use £1.2m Public Health funding - £400,000 each year from 2018 - 2020 - to address inequalities in health and wellbeing across the city. The council recognised the social value that parks provide and referred to the wealth of evidence that shows the preventative value of having good quality urban greenspaces on people’s doorsteps to benefit health and wellbeing and restricted funding to the most deprived 30% of neighbourhoods. The aim of the funding is to improve parks and open spaces and thus outcomes in health and wellbeing for people in areas of Sheffield that have higher indices of deprivation and health inequality.

As part of the allocation process the team undertook a review of all parks and green spaces in the eligible areas of Sheffield, measuring them against the Sheffield Standard Assessment on how safe, clean, welcoming and accessible a park or green space was. The city’s Green and Open Spaces Strategy (2010 to 2030) has a target that all sites will be managed to a Sheffield Standard pass mark by 2030. Currently just over 60% sites pass the Sheffield Standard but there areas of the city where health inequality and deprivation is greatest have more sites that do not reach the standard.

Improvements included a major refurbishment of the Norfolk Heritage Park playground, the renewal of three multi-use games areas, renewal works to seven playgrounds, path network and access improvements in order to make parks more accessible for people of all ages and abilities and renovation of a countryside visitors centre

Funding allocated for year two will enable enhancements to seven more playgrounds as well as a range of access and recreational improvements to a further five parks.

Research by the University of Sheffield of the £300,000 Norfolk Heritage Park playground improvement found:

•47% of visitors to the park now have longer visits

•People interviewed said that they now visit the park more often

•90% of respondents felt that the play facilities were important to their children's health and wellbeing

The Public Health Funding has proved invaluable for helping to raise the standards for parks in areas of Sheffield with high levels of health inequality. Working with communities to deliver these improvements has helped to connect people with their local green spaces and this engagement helps to foster love, value and use.

Once parks achieve the Sheffield Standard Quality and the community has been empowered to be involved, future maintenance will be easier to manage, making sites more resilient. This is particularly notable where sight lines, visibility and recreational opportunities have been enhanced to attract more users.

Due to the success of the funding programme the parks and countryside service is hoping to secure further investment up to 2022.

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