Our parks and greenspaces have been a lifeline for many during lockdown. New resources published today [Tuesday 16 March] by greenspace scotland will help communities, schools, health centres and other groups to use our parks and greenspaces more.

As restrictions start to cautiously ease and we continue to adapt to living with Covid-19, Better outside – using our spaces more provides examples, ideas, inspiration and resources for taking indoor activities outside.

The Better Outside toolkit features projects and inspiring ideas, together with downloadable resources which provide more information about making it happen, things to consider, who can help and real-life examples. There are also Technical Resources and a colourful Ideas Source Book which provides ideas and examples of seats, shelters, storage, lights and WiFi from low cost interventions for as little as £5 per person to more ambitious projects that would require professional support and planning.

Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland said:

“At greenspace scotland we’ve always talked about parks and greenspace as our natural health service, our children’s outdoor classrooms, our community and leisure centres without a roof. Now we need them more than ever. The ‘Better outside – using our spaces more’ resources are packed with ideas and examples to help groups take indoor activities outside. As we look ahead to restrictions cautiously easing, now is the time to start thinking and planning for free-range community centres, youth work al fresco, outdoor play and learning, and taking cinema and music outside.”

Susan Paxton, Head of Programmes at Scottish Community Development Centre and Manger of the Community Health Exchange said:

“Everyone’s been impressed by the amazing response from people and communities to support those who need help across their neighbourhoods, particularly those who have experienced the worst effects of the pandemic. We’ve seen some great examples of local community organisations actively promoting the great outdoors and nature as a safe way for people to maintain and improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing. The Better Outside resources are a fantastic way to help groups continue to adapt their services and activities as restrictions permit, so that more people can benefit from spending time outside.”

Recent reports such as that published last week by the MRC on behalf of the Public Health Scotland Social Systems Recovery (SSR) – Environments and Spaces Group, are helping us to understand how Covid-19 has influenced our use of greenspace. In particular, the findings show there were distinct inequalities in visiting green and open space.

Elaine Young, Head of Health Improvement/Assistant Director of Public Health, NHS Ayrshire & Arran said:

“Spending time outside has huge benefits for our physical health and mental wellbeing, but surveys show that use of greenspace during Covid-19 has been sharply polarised. The Better Outside resources provide inspiring ideas to help all groups adapt their services and activities as restrictions permit, so that more people can benefit from spending time outside. We also know that the effect of greenspace is dose-dependent, meaning those who have longer exposure to greenspace have greater mental health benefits, so it is important to make regular use of greenspace. Within the NHS we have been “greening our NHS estate” to provide opportunities for staff, their families, visitors and local communities to enjoy woodland walks and other greenspaces.”

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“Parks and greenspace teams have been working tirelessly to maintain and keep greenspaces open safely over the last year and they have introduced some very creative ways for people of all ages to connect with nature. We know how important that connection is for our wellbeing and want as many people as possible to benefit from the nature around them. We are pleased that thanks to players of The National Lottery, the Better Outside toolkit will share sector expertise so that others can be inspired to take their indoor activities outdoors safely.”