Promoting welcoming spaces, more accessible places and greater involvement in them
There are three core strands to our work:
London has a long tradition of provision of access to natural green space. The Thames Path National Trail runs from the capital’s western boundary to the Thames Barrier at Greenwich. The network of publicly accessible green spaces includes a suite of internationally famous parks and gardens, hundreds of local parks, 140 Local Nature Reserves covering over 2,500 ha, 15 country parks, 80 km of canals and over 100 community gardens.
Green space makes up 60% of the area of the London region, which is the wealthiest region in the United Kingdom in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. However these facts mask the reality that London is a region of stark polarisation in terms of wealth and deprivation.
26% of London’s neighbourhoods are amongst the top 20% most deprived communities in the country
45% of children in inner London live in poverty
1 in 10 Londoners live in social housing.
The 2001 census estimated that 1.75 million Londoners live within an area deficient in access to nature. Poorer communities are less likely to have easy access to open space, whether a private garden or public green space.
Children and young people represent 24% of London’s population. Nearly half of 7-14 year-olds in London surveyed for Playday 2006 did not play outside as much as they would like, 10% higher than the UK average.
The natural environment is essential to people’s health, well-being and quality of life. The Active London programme seeks to improve and increase the amount of accessible natural green space, and to ensure that there are interventions to facilitate ownership and empowerment of the local community. This is considered to be of key importance for a number of reasons:
Access to natural green space has a number of implications for physical and mental health. Research has shown that people are more likely to be physically active in areas where they can access high quality natural green spaces (Giles-Corti et al 2003, AJPH), while also providing spaces for tranquillity and reflection.
Appreciation and access to the natural environment reduces inequalities and provides for the development of ‘social capita’, improving community cohesion – of particular importance in large urban centres.
Good quality green space improves the surrounding environment for people and wildlife by providing a green lung and cooling system in the city.
Green space contributes to people’s development, particularly the young, giving them the opportunity to appreciate and connect with the natural world, and in turn come to value it.
To contact the Active London team, email firstname.lastname@example.org