The mission of the Friends of Gledhow Community Fields association is to work actively with local residents, elected Councillors, City Council Officers, Gledhow Primary School, Brackenwood Community Association, Education Leeds Officers, West Yorkshire Police and other partners to keep Gledhow field freely accessible to our community and to help keep our neighbourhood a safe, clean, green, attractive, sought after and desirable place to live, work and play.The group is newly formed and our actions and future objectives will be determined by your views on the future of Gledhow Field. Through engaging with local residents in person, via surveys, telephone or email communications we hope to gather further support and get a true sense of what you want.
We can be contacted on:
Mobile: 07783 800036
Our guiding principles are as follows.
Enhancing the Community Green Space through Listening to You
Between September and December 2010, Leeds City Council asked people who live and work in Leeds to tell them what they wanted Leeds to be like in the future. Detailed in the ‘Vision for Leeds 2011-2030’, the priorities established from this included engendering increased community spirit and developing better relationships with our localities. The Friends of Gledhow Field aim to achieve both of these goals – creating greater sense of community by listening to your views on how we can enhance our field and presenting them the relevant authorities and stakeholders. It is vital that as residents, tax payers and major contributors to the success of our community that we have a voice in any decisions made. Gledhow Field is public land, paid for by public money – it should therefore be the public who decide its future.
Improving our Community’s Health and Wellbeing
According to recent documentation issued by Public Health England, around one in two women and a third of men in England are damaging their health through a lack of physical activity. A wealth of evidence shows that an active life is essential for physical and mental health and wellbeing and can even reduce levels of crime and antisocial behaviour. We therefore need to embed physical activity into the fabric of daily life, making it an easy, cost effective and ‘normal’ choice in every community in England.
Although sport can be part of the picture, for many, taking exercise needs to be more relaxed and informal – for the very young, the elderly, the disabled and even the non-competitive minded, everyday activity such as walking can be a great way to get the heart pumping. Evidence shows just having ease of access to open space makes a crucial difference. One study showed that respondents living closest to parks were more likely to achieve recommended physical activity levels, less likely to be overweight or obese and will live longer. The health of older people increases where there is more space for walking near home and children become more active when they live closer to playgrounds and open recreation areas.
As a result of their research, the government recommends that local areas support change through the creation of safe and attractive environments where everyone can walk, play or cycle, regardless of age or disability. Gledhow Field already contributes to the governments drive to embed a healthier, more active approach to everyday life by providing walkable links to bus terminals and other work places, shops etc as well as a safe and enjoyable space for free play, bike riding and exercise. The Friends of Gledhow Field would support the addition of new benches, the creation of walkways and better entrances which would improve access to the land and increase the appeal and usability to the elderly, the disabled and very young children. There is no need to pay for gym memberships, aerobics classes or the hire of courts or pitches. Whether you are kicking a football around, riding a bike or simply going out for a stroll, enjoying a green space is one of very few things in life that remains totally free therefore accessible to all.
Eradicating Dog Fouling
Dog fouling is sadly an issue on the field. Whilst the majority of dog owners act responsibly, there is a minority that spoil the land. It is therefore important that we work to find a way to eradicate this issue without alienating dog owners. There are numerous sports fields around the country, including the pitches in Roundhay Park, which have full, open access to all, we need to ensure that our field takes the same stance. It is estimated that around a quarter of households have a dog. The Government’s ‘Everybody Active, Every Day’ programme, which is a framework targeted to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation, advocates dog walking as a healthy option for supporting active living. With the addition of appropriate signage and bins, we can resolve this issue.
Creating a Litter Free Environment
According to government statistics, England is a litter-ridden country compared to most of Europe and North America. Levels of litter in England have barely improved over the last decade and the best estimates are that litter costs the taxpayer between £717 and £850 million a year to clear up. The Government is considering bringing forward legislation requiring all shops, restaurants and retail food outlets to improve the responsible disposal of litter. There are also plans being considered which will enforce better labelling of packaging to discourage litter dropping, introduce new laws relating to fly-tipping and create a national litter strategy to tackle these issues.
Gledhow Field already has a number of community minded litter pickers who independently clear away litter from our field, consequently, litter has never been a major issue. With the addition of better signage and provision of bins, coupled with regular litter picks organised by the Friends of Gledhow Field, we can work together as a community to move closer to having a litter free environment.
Facilitating Community Socialising
Our field provides the perfect meeting place to catch up with friends and family, general socialising.
Research shows that strengthening social networks and time spent socialising benefit wellbeing as well as improving mental health. To coin a famous advert’s phrase, it is good to talk, but through enhancing the safety, attractiveness and facilities of Gledhow field, it will be even better to do it in the heart of our local community.
Encouraging Free Play for Kids
Children have plenty of opportunities to play organised sports either in school time or in afterschool or non-school teams. However, ‘free play’ where there is no restriction in terms of what they play or any judgement on how well they play is equally important. The land is already safe, it is a well-used open space that is perfect for children’s play; the grass provides a soft landing for kids learning to ride their bikes, they can use their imagination in the creation of games or they can generally make free use of the land. In accordance with the UN General Comment Number 17 and Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the following relevant conditions should be met:
‘Availability of rest and leisure time, as well as space that is free from adult control and management.’
‘Opportunities to invest in their own space and time so as to create and transform their world, using their imagination’
In addition, following a survey conducted by Sport England, ‘Millions of women and girls are afraid to exercise because of fear of judgement.’
This suggests that any restrictions on the field and claiming it for team sports as opposed to free play is not the best use for children. The Friends of Gledhow Field will campaign to maintain year round, free access to the field with no restrictions on sports activities.
Protecting Wildlife Habitats and Inspiring People to Appreciate Natural Beauty
Two sides of Gledhow Field are edged by a ‘hedgerow’ and the Brackenwood Drive entrance features a group of trees and undergrowth which, although very small, still provide space and vital resources for mammals, birds, and insects to feed, shelter and breed. You may not think the mowed field can offer much for wildlife but in fact it will be home to a host of insects which in turn provide food for birds and other animals. Even the nettles, which are usually considered as an unsightly weed, are actually one of the UK’s most valuable plants for the wildlife garden as they support over 40 species of insect.
The land on which Gledhow Field now sits was formerly farm land and, with the progression of time, housing and business communities have taken over and the natural environment has shrunk dramatically meaning children now and in the future have less opportunity to appreciate wildlife. Play England, is the driving force behind a campaign to let kids get back their ‘wild time’ and reverse the trend of children losing touch with the natural world.
As the land has for decades been used as a recreational area, mostly for children to play on, walking and socialising, the natural environment has had little or no obvious attention. Despite this, it is vital that the existing hedgerows, grassed and wild areas are maintained for our children and future generations to enjoy and learn from. We must also protect the habitats of the wildlife that have made their homes in there for many years.
In addition to preserving what is already there, more could be done to enhance the field both as an attractive area to enjoy and as an environmental project to encourage new wildlife. Planting bulbs, native trees or shrubs, wild flowers, edible fruit, vegetables or herbs are all options to be considered.