Friends falling in love with park life

A Groundwork Love Parks Week event in West Park, South Shields.
A Groundwork Love Parks Week event in West Park, South Shields.

Supporters of South Tyneside’s parks aim to show they are more than just good ‘friends’ by backing an annual national initiative.

Earlier this year, eight ‘friends of’ groups came together to form the South Tyneside Green Space Forum for mutual help and encouragement in keeping the borough’s green spaces well-tended.

Now they are supporting Love Parks Week, which runs until Sunday, through initiatives which include litter picks and a children’s parks play scheme.

Forum members in South Shields help look after Readhead Park, West Park, Mowbray Park, and the north and south marine parks.

Others are friends of East Boldon parks, Coultard Park in Cleadon, Hebburn Riverside Park, and West Park in Jarrow. Cleadon in Bloom, Boldon and Cleadon Friends, Countryside Volunteers South Tyneside, and Friends of Harton Moor, are also involved.

Rebecca Maw, community engagement manager with communities’ charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle, which helped coordinate the founding of the forum, said: “Separately, these groups have done great work looking after our parks and green spaces.

“Each has something a little different to offer from the others but there was a realisation that they could do even better if they supported one another.

“They have met three times and have discussed various things, and now they are supporting Love Parks Week, which is an excellent initiative.

“It is now in its ninth year and is a platform for thousands of park lovers to join forces in the UK’s largest celebration of green spaces, and South Tyneside is playing its part.

“Over 1.4 million people have taken part in events during Love Parks Week last year and we want to see this grow.”

Love Parks Week events include a litter pick in Readhead Park from 11am on Sunday, with gardening sessions held at the West Park in Jarrow each Tuesday and Thursday, from 1pm to 3pm.

A free play scheme for children, aged five to 14, also takes place in the West Park, South Shields, from 11am to 3pm on Monday to Friday, August 10-14. Those aged under eight must be accompanied by an adult.

Members of the forum, which has also benefitted from the support of the South Tyneside Council for Voluntary Service (CVS), and South Tyneside Council, meet regularly to discuss strategy and will soon become fully independent.

Groundwork will continue to hold its weekly Green Gym sessions.

These bring people together to ‘work out’ in green spaces by taking part in fun horticultural and conservation sessions.

They are at Cleadon Park, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm every Monday, West Boldon Lodge, from 10am to noon on Tuesdays, and Monkton Community Woodland, meeting at the car park, from 10am to noon on Fridays.

Groundwork also holds weekly one-hour walks that take in parks and green spaces.

They are on Mondays in Jarrow, meeting at the Morrisons superstore, on Tuesdays in Hebburn, meeting outside Asda, both at 10am, and on Fridays at 10am at Ocean Road Community Centre, South Shields.

A women-only walk meets on Wednesdays at 10am at WHIST (Womens Health in South Tyneside), Salus House, in Mile End Rd, South Shields.