“Green spaces are vital for all aspects of human well being”, Sam Thomson.
What is your job about?
I am the Chair of Friends of Horfield Common which is a community parks group. It was set up by a group of local people in North Bristol to improve the state of Horfield Common. It’s a large green space which wasn’t being looked after very well, it wasn’t being cared for. The way it was being managed meant that there was very little areas for wildlife and the play facilities were in a very poor state.
There was a proposal for the council to sell of 64 parks and green spaces across the city of Bristol on the basis that that was the only way you can look after green spaces. I got involved in looking at the argument.
I started looking at the proposal which said the area was little used by anyone other than dog walkers. We knew that just wasn’t true. 30,000 people protested against the plans to sell the green spaces, people were involved and they really cared. Across the city people like me were getting involved.
What issues do you address? What moved you to take action?
- Green spaces are vital for all aspects of human well being, the local community valued the space and used it very frequently.
- Decisions were made on the basis of how much land could be sold for money rather than the value to the community.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
People would say why are you bothering the decisions have already been made – I think you just have to get involved and speak up. It is a huge commitment to get involved in these things, it has taken up so much of my time.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
We genuinely managed to do something which was a community collective response. Its so motivating to see how passionate people are.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I live Horfield Common area, I think that mental health and particularly young peoples mental health is hugely affected by the environment. There is very short term thinking about the world we live in. It’s very damaging.
I think you start on your doorstep, use what you can and do what you can. I can stand up for this and I have the ability and skills to do it.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
9 – there’s always room for a bit of improvement.