Thurrock Council and local partner voluntary organisation, Friends of Hardie Park, have received a funding award to develop a Community Stewardship model for improving and maintaining 5 parks across the borough.
The award is part of £1.5million of funding and support from Nesta, the Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund and the 'Performing Parks' initiative aims to help those with creative and innovative ideas for running public spaces and plans to help them thrive.
Cllr Deborah Huelin, portfolio holder for communities, said: "The successful projects that have been awarded funding have all demonstrated excellent potential for changing the way that public space is used and managed, putting communities at the heart of ideas to make parks more sustainable and vibrant. It’s an exciting opportunity for Thurrock, and this 2-year project will see local people at five green spaces across the Borough working alongside Friends of Hardie Park and Nesta, as pioneers of innovative new models of community engagement, management and usage."
Rob Groves, Chief Executive Officer of Friends of Hardie Park said, "We are delighted with the award. It is recognition of the work we have achieved to date in transforming and reviving a disused park into a thriving public space with a community cafe for all to enjoy. The 5 chosen parks are at various stages of transformation and each will work with us and Nesta to benefit from this funding. Different groups of volunteers will take varied approaches to the responsibility of the management of their parks. A package of learning and support will be created over the 2-year period with help from Nesta in order to spread the approach to other areas. It's our opportunity to empower our parks with the management skills to ensure sustainability."
Alice Casey, Head of New Operating Models at Nesta said: "Our aim is to help parks innovate to ensure they can sustain and develop as free, open and truly valued community spaces for the future. Parks are wonderful, free public resources, that communities treasure; particularly in urban environments. They support activity, health and wellbeing, as well as play, socialising and connection to nature. Rethinking Parks will demonstrate ways to ensure that our parks will continue to be protected and loved by communities everywhere for generations to come."