Bristol Parkhive to help volunteers improve Bristol's parks and green spaces

Issue date: 18 February 2015

The University of the West of England's Arts, Creative Industries and Education faculty is working with volunteers from Bristol Parks Forum on a city-wide public engagement project as part of Bristol Green Capital 2015.

Bristol Parkhive is a collaborative exchange project between UWE Bristol and the Bristol Parks Forum, the umbrella organisation for Bristol's network of community and volunteer-led parks groups.

The project aims to highlight and support the work of Bristol parks volunteers, increasing their skills and capacity to innovate. It links up volunteers, the University and its students with live projects around parks and green spaces in Bristol to help improve and safeguard these 'green lungs'for the future.

Sam Thomson, Director of Civic and Cultural Engagement at UWE said, “Parks and green spaces are crucial for good health and wellbeing, and provide multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.

“More than 83% of Bristol residents use their local park[1] - meaning that Bristol's parks are the most used leisure facility in the city - and hundreds of Bristol residents volunteer their time to be involved in, fundraise for and manage improvements to their local parks.[2]

“But funding for parks is not statutory, meaning that nationwide – including across Bristol – parks are facing an uncertain future.”

Bristol Parkhive will run throughout European Green Capital Year 2015, and aims to explore how UWE and BPF can work together effectively and sustainably to improve parks and green spaces across the city in 2015 and beyond.

In 2015, Bristol Parkhive will create:

- A new digital photographic archive celebrating all of Bristol's parks and green spaces in our European Green Capital Year, 2015. All residents and visitors are invited to contribute photographs to the archive – whether they visit only once during the year, or use their local park every day.

- A new App making all of Bristol's parks and green spaces (and the facilities they offer) easy to find - including travel information, links to events and activities and information about facilities.

- A series of 'showcase projects' which demonstrate how UWE staff and students from subject areas across the University can collaborate with Bristol Parks Forum members to achieve improved civic outcomes. This will develop a series of case-studies which can be used by other parks groups in the city and will also test approaches and examples of the ways in which we can continue to work together sustainably post-2015.

Bristol Parkhive will also deliver a programme of skills development activities for Bristol Parks Forum volunteers. These skills include training in activities and event organisation, fundraising, app and website development, the creation of new wildlife walks and trails, promotion and marketing enhancement using social media. This training will be delivered by UWE Learning and Teaching Fellows, Academic and Technical Staff, masters and undergraduate students –all of whom are volunteering to share their skills and contribute to the work being undertaken by volunteers in Bristol's parks and green spaces.

The project will also include an extensive programme of UWE student volunteering which aims to enable students to develop their skills and experience whilst supporting community-based and voluntary organisations to achieve improvements to parks and local areas across the city.

Find out more at

Editor's notes

1. Sam Thomson, Parkhive Project Director and UWE Director of Civic and Cultural Engagement is available for interviews.

2. Recent reports by NESTA (Rethinking Parks):

“…the long term viability of public parks [is] under threat because of forecast reductions in public subsidies.”

and the Heritage Lottery Fund (State of the UK Public Parks 2014):

“…there is a growing risk that could see [UK] parks become run down 'no go areas' or even sold.”

…highlight increasing concern that funding for maintenance and day-to-day management of the UK's Parks and Green Spaces is being eroded to such an extent that these vital community spaces are in danger of declining–and makes clear that voluntary community groups are being asked to take on responsibility for increasing levels of work in parks, and that they need support to do this effectively.

Bristol Parkhive aims to support Bristol's Community Parks Group Volunteers using the resources and expertise of UWE – including our students and staff – to support improved civic, societal and environmental outcomes for the city.

3. The Parkhive Project Team includes: David Smith, Assistant Project Director and UWE Creative Industries Learning and Teaching Fellow who is a specialist in working with Digital Media in Community Settings. Additionally, the project team includes 2014 graduates from our BA degrees in Photography, Illustration, Journalism and Fine Art.

4. To submit photographs to the new digital archive – contributors can use the following:

Twitter @bristolparkhive



5. Bristol is the European Green Capital for 2015 and is the first UK city to be chosen for this honour. UWE Bristol was instrumental in helping the city with its winning bid and is now bringing together a wide range of activities to maximise student, staff and community involvement.

More information on UWE's involvement is here.

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