Fields in Trust

Fields in Trust on the road

Posted in About us on 28th May 2024

Fields in Trust is the only charity in the UK working to protect parks and green spaces. But how does this work in practice, and what happens behind the scenes to achieve, and steward, this protection?

Angela Lewis is our Senior Projects and Stewardship Manager and works in partnership with landowners to protect parks and green spaces, advises them on improvements and changes to protected spaces, and looks after Fields in Trust’s portfolio of owned sites. 

My work at Fields in Trust involves working with landowners to protect green spaces and then supporting them once the spaces are protected.

Like many organisations post-Covid, Fields in Trust operate a hybrid working system, so each week I get to spend time with my lovely colleagues at our office in Shepherd’s Bush and also have a couple of days sharing our little office at home with Sport England (my husband works for them!).

But I have to say, with apologies to all the above, that my favourite working days are the ones where I get out and about to meet people and visit green spaces.

I travel pretty much over the whole of the UK, whether that’s to talk to a local authority, town council or parish council about a protection programme, visiting green spaces that are going to be protected with us, discuss changes that landowners want to make to a protected space, or meeting the people who manage the spaces Fields in Trust own.

I get to visit some amazing parks and green spaces and with the City of Edinburgh Council and Shaftesbury Town Council have recently protected two of my favourites. Cramond Walled Garden in Edinburgh which is a beautiful space that feels as though you are in someone’s garden and St James’s Park in Shaftesbury an urban space with something for everyone that doesn’t feel as though it’s in the middle of the town. And for those of a certain age, Shaftesbury is also home to the street where a Hovis advert was filmed, later reprised by The Two Ronnies, which is probably more famous (and definitely funnier) than the original.

Recently I went on a three-day trip to the Midlands, North Wales and the North West, covering almost 800 miles and you can see the highlights here.

Our team are often out on the road visiting protected parks and meeting with landowners to discuss how we can help secure the future of their parks. Here's a snapshot of just three days our Senior Projects Manager, Angela Lewis, spent travelling recently. She certainly packed a lot in! Pity about those pots of gold, mind.

Whilst visiting so many parks (one day I’ll  count them but it’s well into the 100s) I try and take the opportunity to pass on good ideas for parks and green spaces, and I think one of the best things a landowner can do to improve a green space is to put in a perimeter path. A path can help make the space more accessible to wheelchair users, prams and pushchairs, people who find it easier to walk on a path rather than uneven grass… the list goes on. It can also be waymarked so that people know how far they have walked/jogged/run, and during wet weather (and we’ve had plenty of that recently) means that more people can use the space, which always has to be a good thing.

As a result of all the travelling, my geographical knowledge has improved over the years – I’m not sure if it’s a benefit but I’m quite good at ‘Where is Kazakstan?’ on House of Games when it features the UK!

There are some occupational hazards when driving long distances; in no particular order these are running late, getting hungry or thirsty, being slightly (or completely) lost, fuel running low and needing the bathroom. However, it’s only when these all occur at the same time that things get really stressful!

If I’m staying reasonably close to home I take my colleague Rosie, who is a cockapoo, disguised as a cocker spaniel, and who has featured in a Fields in Trust campaign or two. She certainly enjoys visiting new places, so much so that I’m careful not to tell her what she’s missed out on when I go further afield! We are both enjoying visiting some new spaces as we are taking part in our May campaign Bark For Our Parks.

I mentioned earlier about spaces that Fields in Trust own – these are spread all over the country and many of them are managed on our behalf by groups of volunteers. A lot of these spaces are playing fields – often the hub of a village – and many hundreds of hours are freely given by these volunteers, for the benefit of local people. I love seeing great sports facilities – apart from green spaces my other passion is sport and physical activity and the benefits of being active. I’m lucky that my job often combines the two. We’ve got some really exciting projects in development on some of our owned spaces and I’m looking forward to seeing them come to fruition.

But at the end of the day – literally – although I’m sometimes tired, I always get home inspired by the passion that the people I’ve met have for their parks and green spaces and this keeps me going until my next trip!

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