Over the time that the group has been growing, the support for public parks and green spaces and funding to support the range of activities that take place within them has changed. The restrictions on local government spending and budget cuts have highlighted the costs of parks and economies and budget reductions and restrictions have become the norm. For instance, in Abington, the premier park in the town, we have seen the number of gardeners reduced to a minimum. A small group of volunteers from the Friends has long supported the gardeners with regular weekly clean-ups. Their efforts have helped to keep parts of the park looking as good as possible. The gardening and planting is typical of demands being made on a reduced workforce and amply demonstrate the effects of cut-backs.
A key issue that now faces the Friends is whether this type of voluntary activity is what we are about? First the ‘volunteers’ are small in number and we find it hard to recruit new people to help, so should such volunteering be the centrepiece of our work?
Over the years we have worked with NBC and others to raise funds for bigger projects - we have raised tens of thousands of pounds for projects such as children’s play equipment, adventure play equipment and of course the Boules area among other facilities. Should we continue with these efforts?
Friends play a key role in that as a community group we can apply for funding unlike the Council or Museum Services. Is this a key role for us? Should we continue to focus efforts on such projects? The most imminent of these is the Sensory Garden.
What should we do? We should like to hear your views on this project and our work more widely. The committee will meet soon to discuss these issues. Your views will count.
Photo's courtesy of Malcolm Reynolds
Anne Stevens, Secretary, Friends of Abington Park
4 Weston Way, Abington NN3 3BL
Tel: 01604 631890
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Friends of Abington Park (FoAP)
The Friends has existed for over thirteen years. During that time it has grown into a recognised and influential community group. We currently have around 300 members from all walks of life. We count among our members a number of local councillors and others who support us in many ways.