Breathing space: how we help communities use, create and improve outdoor spaces

Shettleston Community Growing Project

Food and fitness

  • Outdoor spaces are key to healthy communities. Research has found, for example, that growing fruit and veg in 10% of urban green spaces could provide 15% of the population with their five portions a day. Our funding has helped the Incredible Edible network grow food on over 16,000m2 of land across the country, through 144 local groups.
  • We also support health and wellbeing through social prescribing. Urban Biodiversity’s community orchard in Newquay helps those with long-term health needs through practical activities like planting, harvesting and maintenance work. Through the project, 19% of participants reduced their use of medication and 33% reduced their use of GP services
We've funded 3,409 allotment and community garden projects in the past five years, helping communities to grow food and grow closer together

Intelligent investment

  • Outdoor spaces offer value for money; the Parks Alliance has found that for every £1 invested in parks, there’s a £7 return in wellbeing and environmental benefits. Our Connswater Community Greenway project in Belfast, which put in place a 9km ‘linear park’ with wildlife corridors, waterway improvements, footpaths and cycle paths, is expected to return up to £6 for every £1 invested through boosts to land value, health, tourism and climate.
  • There are also employment benefits to outdoor investment. For example, in Pontypridd, our support helped Ynysybwl Regeneration Partnership take control of and improve a local outdoor swimming pool. The following summer saw 19 local people become lifeguards at the site, either through employment or through volunteer training.
We've supported communities to connect outdoors through 2,171 projects related to parks and green spaces

Access for all

  • Equal access to outdoor spaces is vital. Dementia costs the UK economy more than heart disease and cancer combined; something as simple as spending time outdoors could help people with dementia maintain and improve their overall health, but they face barriers to access. We funded Dementia Adventure to run over 900 outdoor activity sessions, from woodland walks to gardening and farm visits, for 2,500 people with dementia and 582 carers.
  • Some communities may feel less welcome or less comfortable than others in outdoor spaces. We funded Students and Refugees Together in Plymouth to run walking groups for refugees, helping those new to the area connect with local nature, feel more comfortable in their surroundings, and meet new people to build their sense of community.
We've helped communities explore nature through acquiring, using and improving the accessibility of 833 woodlands and 428 lakes/waterways