08 April 2021 by Kate Conto
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our relationship with the places where we live, what we want from them and what’s important to us in the future. Our appreciation of local green spaces has grown, and we want them to be wilder, greener and more accessible.
For many of us, walking provides a much-needed sense of freedom, helping us to stay healthy and boost our wellbeing during difficult times. During lockdown walking was the most popular form of physical activity – and we intend to keep it up.
But access to green space isn’t equal. Evidence has long shown that poor access to green space is bad for our health – physically and mentally – and that it widens the gap in health outcomes between the richest and poorest in society. Our report last year showed how COVID-19 brought these inequalities into sharp focus.
London and Greater Manchester Mayoral Elections
To coincide with the Mayoral elections taking place on May 6th, we've launched manifestos outlining what we believe the priorities should be for the next Mayors of London and Greater Manchester.
In London we are asking the new mayor to commit to creating six new green walking routes that will provide walking links between green spaces, create greener streets and help revitalise the network of existing routes such as the Capital Ring and Thames Path. Londoners can let them know you support our call, by contacting them today.
In Greater Manchester, we want to add to existing walking routes like the Manchester Green Trail - so we are calling on mayoral candidates in May’s elections to commit to creating a new green walking route in each of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs. If you live in Greater Manchester, please let contact the candidates know you support the creation of new green walking routes.
The value of being able to go for a walk, connect with nature and de-stress, hit home. Access to green spaces meant having somewhere to take the kids, exercise, hear the birds and feel part of the local community. Only 57% of adults questioned for our report told us they lived within five-minutes’ walk of green space – be it a local park, nearby field or canal path.
It’s also true that our most deprived communities are less likely to have green space close to home and more likely to live outside the catchment area of nationally important green space, like our National Parks. We know that in both London and Greater Manchester fewer than half of people live within a five-minute walk of green space. It’s time to make more green walking routes a reality.