Haringey Friends of Parks Forum is the independent and very successful umbrella organisation and network for the 30 local Friends groups of Haringey residents who are active in 'taking ownership' of, and protecting and improving, our parks and open spaces. Friends groups hold regular well-represented meetings of the Forum every 2 months, and the groups communicate and co-ordinate through the Forum’s email list.
Friends Groups do a huge amount and put in thousands of hours of volunteer time to:
- help develop maintenance and management plans for our parks and green spaces
- prevent inappropriate development in parks and green spaces
- plant trees, shrubs and flowers, and help create play areas, seating and other facilities
- conduct regular walkabouts and produce maintenance updates
- organise activities that encourage local residents to safely use their local open spaces, including festivals involving up to thousands of local people
The Friends groups have increasingly liased closely with the Council's Parks Service in doing this, and have been key agents in helping to bring in millions of pounds in external funding to improve facilities for local people. They have worked with the Council on achieving Green Flag status for 8 parks and open spaces, the highest number in London.
Of course its not all plain sailing – the Council lacks resources, is often poor at communications or unnecessarily bureaucratic, and groups often have to lobby and campaign to get their views over.
Co-Ordination With The Council
The Forum is supported by the Parks Service, and Parks officers attend a session during the Forum’s meetings to take note of each local Friends group’s issues, and to discuss wider issues of common concern. Recently the Haringey Head of Parks announced that the Parks Department had just been given an award for the Best Council Team - he stated that this award was only possible due to the partnership working with Friends groups and the Forum.
The Forum has been effective in lobbying and campaigning for:
- better planning policies as they affect open spaces
- more ambitious and effective open space standards
- greater levels of on-site staffing
- giving support to individual Friends groups when particular threats or opportunities have arisen
The Forum works with Haringey Federation of Residents Associations (umbrella organisation for the 150 local residents associations of all kinds), and the Haringey Allotments Forum (for the 23 local allotment sites).