08 November 2023
A project to make a city park welcoming to older girls is among 10 park-based schemes to win a 2023 Best of the Best title, in a scheme operated by Green Flag Award.
The accolade rewards the staff, volunteers or projects that have made a real difference in some of the UK’s 2,216 parks that have a Green Flag Award - the international quality standard that recognises and rewards well managed green spaces.
Studies have shown that girls' use of public spaces declines from the age of eight, limiting their access to the benefits and opportunities that these spaces offer, such as improving physical and mental health.
Make Space for Girls in Rowntree Park, York, launched in 2021 with a focus on trying to reverse the drop off of park use as girls get older.
The Friends of Rowntree Park won the ‘Best initiative to engage and increase use of parks by women and girls’ after it carried out research with girls, fundraising for equipment in the park that older girls want, and ran a month-long programme of 30 free events, including sports, dance, exercise classes, photography and filmmaking, aimed at encouraging 10 to 18 year olds into the park, with more than 250 girls involved.
The other winners are:
- Team of the Year (volunteers) (joint winners): The Friends of Apley Wood (Telford and Wrekin Council) - England and Mill Waters Volunteers (Ashfield District Council) - England
- Employee of the Year (joint winners): Dave Gordon (Wallsend Park, North Tyneside Council) – England and James Armour (Strathaven Park, South Lanarkshire Council) - Scotland
- Climate Change Adaptation Project: Van Ward Allotments - Wales
- Best Health Initiative: Bailey Hill - Wales
- Outstanding Contribution by an Elected Member: Councillor Maeve Donnelly (Dixon Park, Mid and East Antrim Council) - Northern Ireland
- Team of the Year (park staff): Forest Farm (Cardiff Council) - Wales
- Volunteer of the Year: Ann Marshall (Dixon Park, Mid and East Antrim Council) - Northern Ireland
- Young Volunteer of the Year: Jaiden Daniels - Wales
- Flag Raising Celebration (photograph): Llanfallteg Memorial Playing Field – Wales
The announcement comes after Green Flag Award and Keep Britain Tidy worked as part of the Safer Parks Consortium, which comprises of Leeds University, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Make Space for Girls, to produce in-depth guidance about how to make parks and public spaces safer and more accessible for women.
Commenting on the winners, Green Flag Award Manager Paul Todd MBE said: “Our parks and green spaces would not be the wonderful, free to access places they are without the tireless work of the thousands of parks staff and volunteers up and down the country who make their parks and green spaces wonderful places that everyone can enjoy.
Our Best of the Best winners showcase just a few of those people who have made an exceptional contribution to their park or green space.
We believe parks and play spaces should be designed and managed in a way that makes them welcoming to everybody.
We want to congratulate our worthy winners on their fantastic achievement.”
Winners were announced at an online ceremony which can be viewed at Green Flag Award 2023 Virtual Award Ceremony - Best of the Best & People's Choice Top 10 - YouTube