Groundwork inspires young people to get involved in preserving their local parks and greenspace heritage. We partnered with Fields in Trust and National Youth Agency to deliver ‘Future Proof Parks’, a National Lottery Heritage Fund programme – part of the £10m ‘Kick the Dust’ initiative.

Future Proof Parks focused on historic parks and heritage landscapes in five ‘hub’ locations across England; East, North East, North West, West and West Midlands.

Between 2018 and 2021 the programme:
– Engaged young people to learn about their local historic park heritage.
– Helped young people join their local ‘friends of’ park groups and volunteer to preserve their local community green spaces.
– Worked with ‘friends of’ park groups to involve more local young people.

Future Proof Parks took place in part during the Covid-19 pandemic. Delivery was adapted to allow the programme to continue through digital methods including a ‘Summer Activity Booklet’ containing 24 lockdown challenges, and the #ReclaimYourPark social media campaign.

Volunteers create a pollinator garden at Lever Park, Rivington.

Programme impact

43 ‘friends of’ parks groups engaged
123 young people retained as committed volunteers
823 young people engaged from diverse ages, backgrounds and characteristics
Intergenerational mixing supported skill exchange, socialisation, and confidence and wellbeing

Heritage sites
– Improvement of parks and green spaces
– Increased knowledge of and attitude toward local heritage

Young people
– Increased confidence and sense of responsibility and ownership
– Practical and transferrable skills gained
– Increased likelihood of committing to long term volunteering with some taking ongoing active roles in ‘friend of’ parks groups

Friends of’ parks groups
– Improved wellbeing of members due to interactions with young people
– Transfer of knowledge and ideas
– More positive perceptions of young people
– Increased capacity for youth participation

– Practical improvements to accessibility and conditions of parks
– More positive perceptions of young people

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Beneficiary stories

I have been working with the Friends of Park group to do conservation work and taking part in wildlife surveys in North Blackpool Pond Trail. Since working alongside the group I feel more confident about working with and meeting new people. I feel so much more connected to be my local park. I have discovered new areas I have not visited before and I now understand why and how it is managed both for wildlife and people. I plan to become a member of the ‘friends of’ park group – I can’t wait!

Sam, 16, Future Proof Parks Volunteer

I was once told that 30 years ago Dartmouth Park had 14 gardeners. Five-years ago we had four, and now we only have an apprentice. We could not do all the work and maintenance to the park without the help of our young volunteers. It’s great because we can teach them new skills and they can get experience of working at the park, and learn valuable life lessons – such as committing to a project, turning up on time and the importance of having a strong work ethic for the world of work. Having young people volunteer has also helped to change the perception that some members had of young people. It’s showing that intergenerational working can be a great success and we can learn from each other to make the park the best it can be.

Annette, Chair of Friends of Dartmouth Park group

#ReclaimYourPark campaign

The #ReclaimYourPark campaign used digital methods to celebrate the positive impact parks have on mental and physical health, while acknowledging and challenging the problems parks face with real, tangible action.

The campaign was co-designed through consultation with two groups; the Groundwork Youth Action Group, and another specifically recruited diverse group of young people. The cocreators identified barriers to green space access for their demographic and informed decision making about what positive action the campaign should inspire young people to take. Influencers were recruited as content creators and mobilised their following to take action, ensuring a far-reaching campaign with a diverse audience.

During the August bank holiday weekend of action, Groundwork Trusts across the UK engaged young people in various activities in their local parks.

Weekend of action: intergenerational working at Crumpsall Park, Manchester.

Campaign impact

The campaign called for young people to enjoy their local green space by reconnecting with nature, friends and themselves. Participation was incentivised through a social media competition which offered the winner a luxury picnic hamper. This competition acted as a hook for the wider campaign, which called for practical action in reclaiming parks such as; writing to an MP, joining a ‘friends of’ parks group, and fundraising.


people engaged through the social media campaign


positive engagements through social media


young people involved in developing and delivering the programme*


of co-creators feel confident to run a park event, and 42% reported a rise in overall confidence


people attended youth engagements held across the UK during the week of action*


youth engagement events during the weekend of action



Youth participation guides for the green space sector
These how to guides support green space volunteer groups in working with young people aged 14 to 24.

Crowdfunding generates income for a project by raising money from a large number of people who each contribute a relatively small amount, typically online. Toolkit created in association with greenspace scotland.

Resources for young people
Toolkits to help young people engage their peers and connect with nature.