Westfield Park, bordered by three schools, a sheltered housing complex, and a doctor’s surgery, is a sanctuary accessible to all ages and abilities. The dedicated group of volunteers who regularly come together as Friends of Westfield Park, have worked tirelessly over the past few years to ensure this local haven is preserved and it’s importance as a green community asset is realised.
Last year, the Friends won the favour of Aberdeen residents and saw their project funded in the via a public vote with the Just Transition PB Fund, and now, in a testament to the work of the volunteers within the group, Westfield Park has been awarded with the prestigious Green Flag Award.
Find out more about Friends of Westfield Park, and the greenspace they work to care for and develop, in this ACVO News feature.
“The Green Flag Award is run by Beautiful Scotland and receiving this recognition is a huge achievement for us.”
says Kirsten Dickson, Treasurer with Friends of Westfield Park. “It means the park has been recognised, as one of a group of parks that feels welcoming and safe for everyone that visits. We are so lucky to have this accessible green space right at the heart of Bridge of Don providing a sanctuary for us as a community to engage with nature, improve physical and mental health and to come together to work on projects that really matter to us.”
And on the morning of Friday 6th October 2023, the local community came together to celebrate the achievement and to see the flag being raised for the first time.
“We were privileged to be joined by representatives from lots of the community groups who have supported us in our journey including; Bridge of Don Men’s Shed, Co-op Community Fund, St Columba’s Church, Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership Health Improvement Fund, Braehead Primary School Eco Group, Bridge of Don Community Council and Aberdeen City Council” added Kirsten.
“It’s taken us a long time to get to where we are, with all the work we have done since we started as a group in 2017, from small events like litter picking to larger projects like the sensory garden and securing funding for our container.”
“Of course, it’s not just about us as a Friends group, the bulk of the Green Flag award submission is backed by Aberdeen City Council who oversee the management of the park as a whole – their support to us as a group has been fantastic, especially over the last year. Then there’s the support from within the community. We have received time, materials and funding from so many people and groups and their belief in us has helped boost our confidence.”
The funding to secure the container mentioned above, came from the year 1 of the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Participatory Budgeting Fund which was distributed in Aberdeen City by ACVO, in partnership with NESCAN Hub. With the scheme, Friends of Westfield Park received a grant of £10,400 following the public vote in Aberdeen, further allowing the group to focus on community engagement and creating a space that could be enjoyed by all.
The funding supported multiple essential projects, each contributing to the park’s enhancement. First on the list was the purchase of a storage container to house tools and equipment. But this wasn’t just any container; it featured a green roof. This unique addition wasn’t just for show but also to ensure that the container itself could reflect the green ethos and aims of the organisation.
Gazebos, another item on their list, meant that no matter the weather, community events could take place, fostering engagement and knowledge-sharing. As well as creating a weather-resistant hub for learning and connection, Friends of Westfield Park are also able to loan their gazebos to other local groups, further benefiting the wider community.
Interpretive panels and signage will also make their way into the park, helping visitors identify and learn about the rich wildflowers and wildlife within. It was a nod to their mission of making the park not just a green space but an educational hub for nature enthusiasts and to engage with local schools.
Anneka Duncan, Chair and Secretary of Friends of Westfield Park, highlighted the benefits of having a central equipment hub. “Now we have everything in one spot, reducing the need to use our cars for equipment pick-up. It’s a huge advantage for us and the environment.”
Kirsten adds, “Because we felt that we had really put our hearts into the application, it meant a lot to us to actually find out that the public had voted for us.”
Anneka echoed her sentiment, saying,
“To me, it was quite emotional to think that the community thought as highly as they did of us. It was just incredible to have our aspiration and our dream come to life.”
The continued transformation of Westfield Park showcases the power of volunteering and community connection. Like other projects within the North East and Moray, money from the Just Transition PB Fund has enabled local, grassroots organisations, like Friends of Westfield Park, to build upon their existing work, facilitating the introduction of solutions which help the region move towards a net zero future.
Find out more at friendsofwestfieldpark.co.uk
This feature originally appeared in the November 2023 edition of ACVO News – this, and all editions of ACVO News are available to read online for free at acvo.org.uk/acvo-news