A new report commissioned by The National Lottery Heritage Fund shows that investing in parks is vital as the country recovers from the pandemic. The research looks at how people used six parks in Scotland and England which had received significant investment through the National Lottery funded Parks for People programme.

The Parks for People Report evaluation of the programme which provides clear evidence for the value of investing in parks. It highlights the multiple social benefits that can be achieved by investing in public parks and in the people who bring those parks to life. It can be used to support decision-making about parks investment and to support development of new practices and policy for parks management.

Research started before the pandemic, and was carried on during the crisis. The Scottish park featured is Edinburgh’s Saughton Park highlighting pre Covid work supporting refugees from the Syrian civil war and looking at how many groups now use the park as a base, including Garvald, a day centre which provides therapeutic activities for adults with learning difficulties; Redhall Walled Garden, a project run by the Scottish Association for Mental Health which specialises in therapeutic horticulture; and Cycling UK, which runs all-ability cycling sessions from the park. The Friends of Saughton Park has grown from seven members in 2014 to 400 today and created a community orchard beside the Water of Leith, planted early in 2020.

Parks for People was a programme offered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund launched in 2006. It aimed to revitalise historic parks and cemeteries in the UK. It supported a total of 135 projects through £254million of funding.