Thousands of people, in hundreds of communities across the UK, will come together this weekend to celebrate local parks and green spaces as part of Have a Field Day, a day to enjoy your local park with friends, family and the community, on Saturday 7th July. These self-organised local events across the UK will take many different forms: perhaps a party in the park, a sports day, a village fete, or maybe joining with neighbours to enjoy a Have a Field Day picnic.
As the heatwave continues Britain is set for an elite sporting weekend with Wimbledon, England's World Cup Quarter-Final and the women's cricket One Day International against New Zealand. Summer weekends like this inspire young people to get out in the park, emulate their heroes and aspire to be part of the future of sport. Every sporting superstar started their journey in a local park or green space - Have a Field Day recognises the importance of these spaces to our communities - and to the nation.
Events taking place on Have A Field Day will be as varied as the parks that will be hosting them, from small picnics amongst neighbours to large summer fetes with thousands in attendance.
One such event will be at Stanley Park in Blackpool, last year's winner of the UK's Best Park, as voted by YOU! award run by Fields in Trust, where around 3,000 people are expected at a family fun day. The event, part of Blackpool's Wordpool Festival will include arts, outdoor reading, pop-up cinema and much more.
On a smaller scale, Friends of St George's Park in Kidderminster will celebrate their tenth anniversary with a family picnic and games. The park was given to the people of Kidderminster in 1927 and in July 2013 was protected in perpetuity with Fields in Trust as a Queen Elizabeth II Field, ensuring it will always remain a green space for the local community.
Meanwhile in Edinburgh the Friends of Starbank Park will welcome hundreds to their Bubble Festival and picnic including face painting, chalk drawing, old fashioned games, fun races, storytelling and refreshments.
Heritage is a theme which underpins the Have a Field Day campaign, with the first Saturday in July marking the date Fields in Trust was founded by King George V at the Royal Albert Hall in 1925. Throughout the 1930s a series of Playing Fields Days helped raise funds towards the organisation's work, and eight decades later some events will be fundraising for Fields in Trust as part of their events.
Whilst Have a Field Day takes its roots from the past, it is very much about the future of our public parks which are at a critical juncture. Research has found that 92% of local authority park departments have experienced budget cuts in the past three years and that between 2014 and 2016 a total of 214 playgrounds were closed by 65 local authorities across the UK. Yet despite the cuts parks and green are a much-loved heart of many local communities.
Fields in Trust's research calls for a revaluing of our parks and green spaces as a resource which contributes to public health, mental wellbeing and community cohesion, not simply being viewed as a drain on council finances for upkeep. The research finds that parks and green spaces across the UK provide people with over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits and also demonstrates NHS savings of at least £111 million per year based solely on prevented GP visits by regular park users.
Have a Field Day is championing our green spaces, calling for their protection from development and raising awareness of the positive impact they have on our communities.
Inspired? Get involved with Have a Field Day by: