Local parks revealed as crucial to community spirit and wellbeing

  • Leeds Building Society research found three quarters (75%) of people in Leeds believe their local park could do with an upgrade
  • Local parks are important to mental health and wellbeing, with 73% of people in Leeds using them as their key place to relax and unwind
  • The vast majority (90%) in Leeds really value their local outdoor space within the community

New research released by Leeds Building Society, reveals just how much Leeds residents value their local community spaces, and the impact they have on our wellbeing.

Runners and walkers at Cross Flatts parkrun

The study explores how important local parks and open spaces in Leeds are when it comes to making people feel connected to their communities, shows most (90%) really value them and 98% would miss having one at their disposal if it wasn’t there. In addition, almost a third (31%) said their local park makes them feel connected to their community.

The research also shows the diversity of our local parks and open spaces in Leeds when it comes to how they are used, with three quarters (74%) using them to go for walk in their spare time, 53% to attend a free community or council event at least once a year, and 17% visit one at least once a month.

Despite this, three quarters (75%) believe their local space would benefit from upgrades, and more than a third (34%) believe it would benefit from more arranged community or council events.

Tracy McCauley, Branch Manager at Leeds Building Society in Leeds said:

“It’s clear how important local parks and open spaces are for helping to foster a sense of wellbeing and genuine connections with local communities in Leeds, with 90% saying they really do value them. Our local parks and spaces are so diverse when it comes to how they’re used, whether it be for running or exercise groups such as parkrun, food festivals, a family walk or even just a space to take time out and read a book.

“Leeds Building Society is committed to supporting local communities and that’s why we’re proud to partner with parkrun UK. parkrun is a vital initiative to bring communities together, it’s a simple way for adults and families to make priceless local connections and friendships, while getting fit at the same time.

“Our partnership supports the organisation by helping to ensure the weekly events in Leeds and across the country remain free forever. We’re also always working on new initiatives to help improve parkrun communities such as the Leeds Building Society Community Reward Scheme which launched earlier this year and provides   funding and volunteer support to help improve parkrun communities.”

Leeds Building Society’s Community Reward Scheme was launched in May 2018 to provide funding and volunteer support to projects that help improve local parkrun communities. A total of £50,000 will be shared across successful projects, to make improvements and a real difference to parkrun events and the wider community. We recently reported that Cross Flatts parkrun had secured funding to build a new shelter in the park.

Last month parkrun celebrated its 14th anniversary and saw the five millionth person sign up to its 5k events that are open to walkers and runners. In the UK, parkruns take place every weekend in 800 local parks and open spaces across the country. In Leeds there are parkruns held every Saturday morning at Cross Flatts Park and Middleton Park.

According to the survey with people in Leeds, more than half (59%) said they would rather be physically active outdoors, with almost a third (31%) saying they need extra motivation from being in a group.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, founder of parkrun said:

“This research shows how strongly people rely on their local parks and open spaces in Leeds as a place to socialise and be physically active, and the success of parkrun to date is a prime example of how much people value and utilise them.

“Our entire ethos is based on bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together every weekend in the great outdoors for a free community event. It’s partnerships with the likes of Leeds Building Society that are important to help ensure that parkrun stays free forever.”

For more information on the Leeds Building Society Community Reward Scheme and how to apply for funding, visit: http://www.leedsbuildingsociety.co.uk/your-society/charity-and-community/community-reward-scheme/


This post was written by Cathy Skelton using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.