The geography of poverty matters. Research shows that a lack of or poorly maintained public space affects a child's ability to participate and learn, adversely affecting relationships. Green space has not only proven to deliver improved health and wellbeing, but it can also reduce the impact of deprivation and help foster a strong community.
A key concern for parents is the safety of their children when playing in their locality. They openly spoke of a lack of clean, safe outdoor space for children to meet and play and where there is community space it was felt it didn't meet the needs of the community. Children echoed the thoughts of their parents and felt frustrated when their localities were unpleasant or damaged.
- Practical actions
- Conduct an audit to identify pockets of land which are too small to develop, but could be made into safe, pleasant outdoor spaces for the community
- When creating a vision for a new community or development, consider how to incorporate adequate green space and areas for children to play
- Be creative - consult the local community, speak to customers, assess what they want and need in their locality.
- Case study
By carrying out a simple audit, we have identified a number of unused pockets of land across our operating areas which currently sit dormant. In the coming months we will be working with local communities, families and children to determine how to make best use of these pockets of land - whether they are simply landscaped, or become a community garden or small play area.
- Improved health and wellbeing - physically and mentally
- Creates a sense of belonging and attachment to local community
- Can reduce levels of anti-social behaviour
- Encourages social interaction
"As housing providers, our role stretches beyond bricks and mortar; we have a social purpose and a combined mission to empower communities and individuals. This campaign is about investing in our future. We can all take small, practical actions and I will be calling on our members to embed the Happy, Healthy Starts ethos across their organisations."
Kevin Rodgers, Chair, West Midlands Housing Association Partnership (WMHAP)