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With many community centres and village halls out-of-bounds during the Covid-19 pandemic, many groups have relocated activities, events and services outside, turning our parks and greenspaces into community centres without a roof.

And it's not just parks, backcourts and backgreens have found a new lease of life as the perfect place to catch up with neighbours for a cuppa and a chat, pop outside for a socially distanced yoga session or practice your wood-working skills making seats and raised beds.

Groups have looked for new ways of bringing local people together outdoors safely and creating a much-needed sense of community. Activities which would normally happen in a community centre have moved outdoors such as community cinema, exercise classes and seasonal events. 

Download: Free-range community centre resource sheet LINK TO PDF

Featured Projects

The Bowling Green, Pollokshields

How do communities continue to come together and support each other in a safe way during the pandemic? In Pollokshields, Urban Roots and Pollokshields Trust are working together to ensure that local people can continue to access the services of voluntary groups by creating an indoor-outdoor meeting space in the Bowling Green greenspace in the heart of the community.

The Bowling Green is a local greenspace and community hub located on the site of the former Kingston Bowling Club. Since 2016 the space has been developed by the community as part of the Pollokshields Trust Mark Makers project 

Read more about the project

Balerno Red Phone Box project


Red phone boxes are seen by many as icons of a by-gone era that are worth valuing, those of us that grew up with them did not give them much of a second thought.

By chance the adoption of the Harlaw Road Red Phone Box by Balerno Village Trust (BVT) coincided with Covid-19 and the box became a community service point during the lockdown. It was used to promote local walks and to swap and share small items such as puzzles, games and books and food items.

Read more about the project


Inspiring Ideas

Govanhill’s big backcourt

Residents in Govanhill looked back at ‘The Great Bin Disaster of 2018’ which brought people together to transform their backcourt. They told us: "The back court has been a godsend during lockdown. It's enabled folk to meet and interact with their neighbours in a safe environment. It has become a place in which to chat, share a drink and even do socially distanced yoga! We are all from different walks of life, but we can come together in this special greenspace."

Find out more


Pilates and Gardening @ Starbank Park

The Friends of Starbank Park combined their volunteering gardening sessions with pilates to keep their volunteers active. 

With the help of Susan Welsh Pilates the keen class were put through a full workout at 8am finishing off with a planting session of giant allium bulbs all donated to the park by the class.

Find out more


Alva Community Council – Halloween and Christmas tour displays

In Alva, Clackmannanshire, the Community Council asked local people to contribute to the Alva Christmas Display Tour 2020. With so many other festive events cancelled the Community Council wanted to do something different to make the season fabulous and fun in Alva.

“‘Twas the week before December, when all through Alva not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Let’s create a magical tour of Alva this Christmas!”

Where locals created a Christmas display, visible from the pavement, they were encouraged to add their address to the Alva Christmas Display Tour 2020. In October, the Community Council did something similar with houses decorated for Halloween and were heartened by the response from residents. At that time the local youth group judged the displays and prizes were given out for 1st , 2nd and 3rd.  The Christmas Display was just to spread some Christmas cheer:

“There are no prizes, there’s no judging, there’s no competition and there’s no checking if you’ve been naughty or nice. If it’s large or small, or if it’s Ho Ho Ho or He He He, we will love them all”


Woodlands Community - Workspace Terrace outdoor meeting space

The Development Trust centred around the Woodlands Community Garden in Glasgow are offering local people a safe outdoor space to meet a friend or loved one. The Workspace Terrace is available for a Covid19-secure meeting of up to maximum of six people from two households.

Local people must book their slot, turn up at their allotted time and bring their own hot drink. Woodlands provide seating, gazebo, table and calm space to catch up over a cuppa. Now that the days are shorter the Trust also puts up outdoor heaters and has decorated the gazebo with fairy lights. A member of staff greets on arrival and makes sure everything is cleaned before and after the meeting.

Find out more


Remember to always check the most recent Scottish Government guidance and advice when planning activities and events outside.

Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting work on Better outside - using our spaces more