Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best urban parks team

Winner - Parks Service, London Borough of Islington

The Islington parks service has five key objectives — to provide safe and welcoming parks, improve grounds maintenance, provide opportunities for work experience and training, deliver and increase income to offset savings, and engage diverse communities to improve health and well-being. The team’s achievements include:

Safe and welcoming parks

-Customer satisfaction of 94 per cent in 2016 user surveys.
-Parks patrol service.
-Comprehensive playground safety inspections and rapid repairs.
-Capital improvements worth £3m delivered via in-house team.
-Park-keepers deployed seven days a week in nine key parks.
-Delivery of 352 events in 2016.
-Establishment of a community gate-locking scheme.
-Some 28 friends groups signed up to a friends charter to play an active role in managing their park.

Grounds maintenance

-London in Bloom gold and "borough of the year" for the past two years.
-Continuous training in plant use and horticultural skills.
-Planting of 70,050 bulbs, 3,924 shrubs/perennials, 15,000 bedding plants and 200 trees.
-Service-level agreements drawn up with 27 groups to carry out horticultural maintenance.
-Gillespie Park gold and "conservation of the year" in London in Bloom.

Work experience and training

-Seven apprenticeship positions.
-More than 3,800 hours of volunteering to date this year.
-Work experience sessions for people with learning difficulties to support them into employment.

Efficiencies and income

-Task management system that provides real time reporting of works, programming, safety checks and quality controls.
-Generation of £1m in revenue through sports income, events, extra works and concessions.
-Secured external grant funding for improvement schemes.

Health and well-being

-Projects launched to reduce isolation. Work done with NHS for post-traumatic stress patients.
-Engaging hard-to-reach groups with nature in their local parks.
-Local schools using parks for outdoor learning.

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