Community spaces in London parks
London's parks are an important part of city life. These green spaces play a valuable role in the life of the community, improving people's physical and mental health.
With 3,000 parks of varying sizes designated by the boroughs as ‘public open space’, London is a green city. Together they cover almost 18 per cent of London which is more than the area of the city covered by railways and roads combined.
To keep our parks clean of rubbish and looked after, Londoners have gathered into different groups of volunteers that come together to work in different public parks.
In this article, we will talk about some of our favourite London parks, and how you can get involved in different activities that happen there.
Illustration by Connie Noble
Peckham Rye Park and Common
Peckham Rye Park and Common comprises a Victorian Park and historic common and provides a pleasant refuge for both the local community and wildlife.
Image source: Southwark Council
Download Peckham Rye Park trail map.
Peckham Rye Park and Peckham Rye Common together make up 113 acres of open recreational grassland, ornamental and water gardens, a lake and woodland. For kids, there is a children's play site and an older children's adventure playground, which has recently undergone renovations.
Find out more about Peckham Rye Park and Common activities.
For those looking to participate in the life of this park, the people of Peckham started a group of volunteers called Friends of Peckham Rye Park. It was formed in 1995 by residents to represent the views of the local community and help make a positive difference in the park. This includes campaigning and fundraising for improvements and organising community events. The group meets regularly to discuss issues that arise and keeps members informed through a quarterly newsletter.
Download Dulwich Park trail map.
Dulwich Park covers 29 hectares and offers a variety of historic features and exciting facilities.
Refurbished in 2006, Dulwich Park won a Green Flag award. Green Flags are given to the best green spaces in the country and are awarded each year to make sure the quality of the green space remains high.
To keep up to the standards, Dulwich Park Friends come together every month to look after the park. They are running a program called Dig the park which runs on the first Saturday of the month from 10 am to 1 pm. You will find more information about it on their website, as well as the contact details to get involved.
For those living an active lifestyle, Dulwich Park has organised walks. The group meets every Wednesday morning at 10 am.
Find out more about activities in Dulwich Park.
At 56 hectares, Burgess Park is Southwark's largest park. The area was once home to factories, densely populated streets and the Surrey Canal before it was badly bombed during World War II.
The park was named after Councillor Jessie Burgess, Camberwell's first woman Mayor in 1973.
In 2012, Burgess Park re-opened after an £8m transformation, establishing it as a park central to the local community and recognised for its heritage, sports facilities, lake and wildlife.
In the heart of Burgess Park, you will find Chumleigh Gardens - the renowned world gardens designed to reflect traditional English, Asian, Oriental, Mediterranean and Caribbean flora.
If you enjoy gardening, there are raised beds for community gardeners to grow vegetables. It is free to visit.
Another project that is taking place in Burgess Park is Glengall Wharf Garden. Situated at Glengall Wharf Garden, it is a food growing space that has a wide variety of activities throughout the week.
Find out about Burgess Park activities.
Download Southwark Park trail map.
Located in Bermondsey, Southwark Park offers great wide-open spaces that are perfect for playing games, having picnics, having a stroll, or just enjoying nature.
This park was also granted the Green Flag Award for its public spaces. It has beautiful gardens, a lake, a range of sporting facilities and an art gallery.
Get involved in the volunteering activities and join The Friends of Southwark Park. They gather regularly to support the park and organise events.
Find out more about Southwark Park activities.
Illustration by Connie Noble
Opened to public in 1905, Springfiled Park was named after its unique geology. Initially the park was formed from the grounds of three private houses, now only the White House (Springfield House) remained.
Springfield Park together with its formal gardens and conservation areas covers more than 14.5 hectares, and has a spectacular view across Walthmastow Marshes.
The park is a winner of a Green Flag award.
And as other parks awarded with Green Flag have their groups of volunteers to look after them, so does the Springfield Park. Their next event is a Monthly Litter Pick, taking place on the 28th of August.
There is a variety of volunteering opportunities to join at the Springfield Park. Conservation tasks, litter picking and much more! Everyone is welcome and no experience is necessary.
Clissold Park, opened in 1889 is one of Hackney's most renowned traditional parks and is a holder of the Green Flag award since 2006. The Hackney Council has a great brochure about the history of Clissold Park, have a read.
This park, too, offers a variety of volunteering opportunities.
This August, the Clissold Park is looking for volunteers who could help with the litter picking, removing saplings and creating habitats with deadwood along the North boundary of the Park. If you fancy this opportunity, get in touch with the organisers through their Eventbrite page.
Or check out the PatchworkFarm, a community-led organisation based in Hackney, that provides a real, practical alternative to the current damaging food system – changing what we eat, how we eat and how it's farmed. Their group in the Clissold Park is looking for volunteers at their market gardens. Their Clissold Park site is open to the public when the volunteers are working there on Tuesdays. This site also boasts a polytunnel and in addition to tomatoes, cucumbers and beans, also specialises in melon growing.
As the saying goes, “Time spent among trees is never time wasted."
Visit your local park, get involved with outdoor activities that happen there, and stay psychically and mentally fit.