London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network (LFN)
The main topic of the meeting was Strengthening Friends Groups. Some good ideas came from the numerous reps from the London Boroughs. Here are some of the key points bearing in mind parks are not a statutory service:
It was felt most committees were made up of elderly members and they never changed, and many were inactive. Friends groups tend not to engage with other park user groups. How can this change as most groups are frustrated at being ineffective. Bring in the other groups with their agendas.
Work with commercial groups and make partnerships with Housing Associations etc. Make parks fun spaces. How do people know you exist? Build an activity day so that you do have something to say.
Don’t moan about lack of help the 10% rule is:
5,000 people – means 500 members – with 50 active and only 5 on the committee!
Friends groups should not just be a talking shops – good web site and use of social media for communicating. Organise a bat walk for Halloween when people are around rather than during the summer holidays when they are not. Use musicians to accompany bulb or tree planting – make it an event.
Be sure you are clear on your objectives – what’s the group for? And who are your providing it for? Set up sub groups for wildlife, community garden, parent/toddler group, art. Sign people up to get a commitment.
Concern was expressed about schools taking over parts of parks for their sports ground.
Get your park registered with the Fields in Trust – another level of protection. Get ready to lobby General Election candidates.