greenspace scotland is today (Thursday 31 August) announcing the launch of Parks4Life: Scotland’s first ever fund for parks and greenspaces, with a goal to raise one million pounds by the end of 2023 to help support Scotland’s parks with a sustainable fund for the future.

To celebrate the launch of the Parks4Life fund, the greenspace charity is launching Park Portraits: a digital photo gallery bringing to life the stories of a dozen Scottish people and the ways that parks have enriched their lives. From Aberdeen to Cumbernauld, Leith to Dumbarton, and across to the Hebrides, greenspace scotland has worked with talented Scottish photographer David Anderson to capture soulful portraits of people who exemplify the value that parks provide.

The funds raised through Parks4Life will be invested to provide an endowment to provide an ongoing source of funds for parks. The endowment will be used by communities across Scotland to support local park improvements, activities and events; making sure local parks from large cities to small towns are nurtured and cherished for the future.

Parks and greenspaces are amazing places at the heart of our communities. They give us breathing spaces where we can take time out from the stresses of our everyday lives, places where we can relax and spend time with family and friends, and spaces where nature can flourish in the heart of our towns and cities. Local greenspaces make a huge contribution to our health, our quality of life and our community spirit. And we really love them: each year, Scots make over 162 million visits to local parks and greenspaces. Free to use, open and available to everyone, parks are great community assets, but not everyone has easy access to quality local greenspaces.

The Park Portrait series celebrates people from a wide range of backgrounds and uncovers their special reasons for enjoying parks, like Willie Mungall, a veteran Royal Marine Commando who has improved his health with a weekly walking group in Edinburgh’s Saughton Park as part of the ‘Walk with a Doc’ programme led by Health All Round.

Also featured is a small group of parents on the Isle of Coll who formed a committee in 2019 to build the first play park on the island. After three years of fundraising and covid setbacks, the committee led by Rosie Rutherford is finally celebrating the completion of the new play park that provides a space for children and families to enjoy together.

Other subjects in the series include a ‘fire spinner’ learning her craft, a team Great Britain Paralympian with a pre-competition ritual to clear his head, and three generations of family that visit the park which holds special childhood memories for each of them.

The Park Portraits gallery is available to view online here. The portraits will also be making their way through some of Scotland’s parks this autumn in a travelling exhibition aimed at inspiring the public to donate to the Parks4Life fund.

greenspace scotland is inviting park lovers from across Scotland to get involved with Parks4Life by taking their own Park Portrait and sharing their park story here, or by making a donation to the Parks4Life Fund.

Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland, said:

Greenspace is a universal service for all of Scotland’s urban residents – we know that access to these spaces is a massive factor in quality of life, and can be a game changer in creating healthier, happier and stronger communities.

The Park Portraits project has allowed us to tell the real stories of everyday park users, from those with fond family memories to the volunteers that enable these greenspaces to provide an oasis for their visitors. It’s been an absolute pleasure to hear how many people have a deep connection with their local park and are keen to share their stories.

Our hope is the Park Portraits series will inspire other people who love their parks to support the Parks4Life fund by donating, as well as sharing their own park stories online. Together, we can help keep Scotland’s parks in good heart for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

Development of the Parks4Life Fund has been supported by a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Using money raised by The National Lottery, the Heritage Fund inspires, leads and resources the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Donations to Parks4Life can be made online or by texting PARK to 70450 to make a one-off donation of £5.

People across Scotland who would like to share their own Park Portrait and park story are invited to post on social media using the hashtag #Parks4LifePortraits and submit to the greenspace scotland page here.