The House

Future Proof Parks: Valuing the contributi­on of young volunteers.

The Future Proof Parks programme, delivered by Groundwork, Fields in Trust and the National Youth Agency, was supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to get more young people involved in preserving their local park and green space heritage.


Our parks can be amazing places. Across the country, volunteer friends-of-parks groups work tirelessly to care for and protect local green spaces, improving our towns and cities. As part of the Future Proof Parks programme young people have learned about historic local parks and have been undertakin­g volunteer activities to help improve and preserve the green spaces that matter to their local communitie­s.

Volunteer efforts are increasing­ly important, as council parks teams have been reduced and restructur­ed. Community groups add value through their work and provide fun, sociable days for people to get together and work collaborat­ively.

However, these groups are not always representa­tive of the whole community of park users and could benefit from a wider, more diverse range of volunteers to support their growing workload. There is an urgent need to recruit more young volunteers to care for and maintain UK parks if they are to meet the needs of current and future generation­s.

Future Proof Parks has worked to grow the next generation of green space volunteers alongside the local communitie­s that enjoy and benefit from the UK’s parks and has supported these young people with training and volunteer opportunit­ies. The programme also provided resources and training for community groups to work safely and effectivel­y with young volunteers. A new series of How-To guides support friendsof-parks groups to recruit more young volunteers beyond the end of the programme.

During the Coronaviru­s pandemic green spaces were crucial for our collective health and wellbeing and will be a powerful part of our recovery. As COP26 has shown, it is more important than ever to recognise the role of local green spaces in boosting air quality and mitigating the effects of climate change. It is vital that the efforts of local, young volunteers are harnessed to support green spaces for good.

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