Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

Our park is an amazing place. It provides a beautiful open space for all to enjoy in York. People come to walk in the woods, learn to ride a bike, spot frogs and newts in the pond, climb trees, walk their dog, and sit in the rose garden.
The park has two play areas, one with a basketball court, and one with two slides, some swings and a small obstacle course. The playground is a regular feature in the lives of many local families, but the play equipment is slowly disappearing as it is ageing and can no longer be repaired.
The Friends of West Bank Park and City of York Council are working together to renew the equipment and add some new features. In 2017, the Friends conducted a community consultation with park users and the local community. We received 400 responses telling us that we urgently need to address the inadequate play equipment for older children and disabled children.
The message was clear: the current playground falls far short of what children and families think a major park should offer and priorities are: challenging climbing and adventurous play for a wide age range, imaginative and collaborative play, boosting health and fitness, and equipment that can be used by all. Although we have obtained some council funding to make a start, there are three pieces of equipment that we can’t afford: a basket swing, a zip wire, and a wheelchair accessible element (swing or roundabout). This is where the Aviva Community Fund can help!
The park attracts people from York and the surrounding areas, with Acomb and Holgate wards the main catchment areas. In Acomb, residents have an income below the York average and higher than average poverty levels. People in Acomb are younger (18% are under 15) and a disproportionate 13% of these children live in poverty. The dilapidated playground affects these families most of all, as they do not have the option of going further afield or paying to access private play and recreation opportunities. This in turn has an impact on active play levels and children’s health.
There are four primary schools located less than a mile from the park, making it a sought-after spot for after-school play.
Also nearby is Hob Moor Oaks, a primary school catering for children who have significant special educational needs. The Friends have good links with the school and will plan the project with Hob Moor Oaks pupils, involving their school council in the selection of accessible play equipment.
With the Council reducing its spending in most areas over the last few years, the Park has suffered from a lack of maintenance and investment. This culminated with the park gates being left open overnight in 2015.
The Friends’ committee was re-formed in 2014, when previous members stepped down, and a new enthusiastic group gathered to expand the range of activities in and for the park. The Friends took over the running of the Summer Fair and started Carol Concerts and pop-up cafes. We rejuvenated the wildlife area, pond and orchards. We run regular outdoor activities for toddlers and primary school children. We organise local volunteers to open the park gates every morning, cutting down on costs, and creating a strong sense of community, and we raised the funding to pay for a security firm to lock the gates at night. The last piece of the jigsaw is to invest in play equipment that really meets the needs of local young people, so they see the park as a place for them.
If we are successful, the Friends will work with the Council to initiate the procurement process for a basket swing, a zip wire, and an accessible swing or roundabout. Once the best suppliers have been selected, we will share these options with the community, especially with young people, including at Hob Moor Oaks, to let them decide on the best ones for the park. We are confident that this process will give us the best play equipment and secure the support of the community, thus ensuring that it stays in a good shape for many years to come.

Project Video

Friends of West Bank Park

The Friends work hard for the park, developing a strong sense of community in the area. We run groups and cafes, open the park gates, and get mucky on action days. We need to support these efforts by investing in play equipment to make the park a hub for families and young people of all abilities.

Location: York