Making connections: the CPRE projects connecting people to green spaces

Women and children stand in a garden and admire vegetables growing
Women and children enjoying the fruits of the garden in a CPRE project Becca Nelson

CPRE projects across England are helping connect people from disadvantaged communities to their local green spaces.

We know that spending time in open green spaces has significant benefits for our mental, physical and social wellbeing, and healthy lifestyles that involve regular visits to green spaces are widely championed.

However, the reality is that accessing the countryside can be a huge challenge, particularly for communities experiencing disadvantages. The coronavirus pandemic only served to highlight these stark inequalities, with many unable to enjoy and feel a connection to the country’s natural heritage.

At CPRE, we’re passionate in our belief that the countryside is for everyone, and we should all get chances to benefit from it. So this is where a special project comes in.

Back to nature

The project is made possible with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we’ve been able to work with communities in Newham and Knowsley, helping them get out into green spaces and enjoy all the opportunities, wellness and benefit that they bring.

Children in a garden showing pictures they've coloured in
Children showing off their creations made during a CPRE project | Becca Nelson

Rural rides to Epping Forest, London

CPRE London has partnered with the Magpie Project in Newham, which supports mums and their young children who are at risk of homelessness.

Some 80% of the Magpie Project’s families are subject to the government’s hostile environment policy, which means they are excluded from universal support and are banned from working to support themselves. The Magpie Project works with these families to advocate for safe, settled, secure housing for their children.

CPRE London and the Magpie Project are working to help these mums and children get out into the countryside. With support from the Epping Forest Heritage Trust, the families are taking ‘Rural Rides’ to Epping Forest.

These days out include activities for the children, such as making wacky clay faces from natural materials, and are, for many of the families, the first opportunity they’ve had to visit the countryside in the UK. Many of the mums tell us of their sense of relief at just being outside and in the fresh air, and CPRE London is looking forward to hosting more Rural Rides in the future.

Young people + local green spaces in Knowsley, Merseyside

The CPRE Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester local group has partnered with Incredible Edible in Knowsley to create a programme for schoolchildren and young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. Incredible Edible brings communities together through growing and celebrating local foods.

Children sit with a gardener and explore seeds in a garden
Children exploring the garden during a CPRE project | Becca Nelson

The programme sees participants from local schools and colleges joining activities at their local park to learn about topics from growing food to local nature and much more. We’re also encouraging the young people to take part in the CPRE Countryside Challenge with CPRE Lancashire and take future opportunities to join trips further afield to enjoy a deeper countryside experience.

The sessions run from June until November 2021, aiming to demonstrate the many benefits of connecting with local green spaces such as improving health and wellbeing whilst also tackling other issues such as food poverty.

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