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Green, fair and healthy in Tyne and Wear

Transforming Scotts Park

The importance of access to good quality green spaces was highlighted during the pandemic. They became vital to both our physical and mental health during successive lockdowns. But as with many things in the pandemic, there was a divide and difference in experience; some communities were quite simply offered more than others. Those living in affluent areas had access to wellmaintained and well-resourced green spaces, whilst those in less affluent areas did not.

Community leaders stand in a park during an action to clean up green spaces.

The community around Scott’s Park, North Shields, listened, organised, and acted to make change happen. A listening campaign at Mum’s Space by PACT North Tyneside revealed a problem area in a park with no play equipment, no bins, littered with rubbish and not maintained, making it unusable for local people.

Following reluctance from the Local Authority to act and pessimism that local communities simply did not care about the park, a day of action was organised. To comply with lockdown restrictions, thirty people gathered from the local Primary School, churches, PACT, and neighbourhoods to litter pick; several bags of rubbish were generated. It led to more conversations about the use of the park and what the community wanted and needed from this space. Leaders wrote to local councillors, council officers and the Mayor of North Tyneside to meet to discuss solutions.

Local parents put forward asks to North Tyneside Council and disputed claims that local dogs “had eaten the swings”.

Meetings took place in the park, where local parents put forward asks to North Tyneside Council and disputed claims that local dogs “had eaten the swings”. Since then, swings have been installed, benches painted, hundreds of trees planted, with plans in place for more play equipment to follow. It is now a place filled with people and the sound of children playing. By taking action together (even during a lockdown with restrictions in place), we can make change. We want to make our planet green, fair and healthy. The community chose not to accept the way things were, to work together and to hold those in office accountable.