In Autumn 2019, our Youth Ambassadors created a manifesto in response to the launch of Bristol’s One City Plan. After consulting with over 100 young people from across Bristol, this manifesto was presented to Mayor Marvin Rees and the city council in an event they organised in City Hall, during their Challenge Programme.
One of the key demands of this manifesto was access to green spaces for young people, including parks and fields. In particular, they demanded:
- “Access to safe green spaces for young people within a 10 minute walk”
- “climate change initiatives that are fully inclusive, and which consider the opinions and experiences of people from ethnic minority backgrounds.”
“As Youth Ambassadors, we discussed the importance of socialising and being active for mental health as well as physical wellbeing,” explained former Youth Ambassador, Al Qazzally Ali. Qazzally and the other Youth Ambassadors had a direct hand in wanting more green spaces for young people included in the manifesto.
Green spaces have been proven to have many benefits on people’s mental health, including reducing stress levels and improving people’s self esteem. “These are also great areas to socialise with different people,” Qazzally continued. “Our experiences of lockdown in particular has provided an even greater reason for us to have more green spaces; we need these spaces to counter issues of isolation and loneliness which seem to be becoming all too common.”
But access to these spaces for marginalised people tends to be far less than more privileged groups of the population. In 2020 Ramblers reported that only 39% adults from a black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds lived within a five-minutes’ walk of green space, compared to 57% of the general population. Differences were also detected based on income, where 46% for those with a household income of under £15,000 lived near green spaces. (compared to 63% of those with a household income over £35,000 and 70% over £70,000). “Combating access inequalities should be one the first areas of focus,” Qazzally continued. “It’s great to have green spaces, but if marginalised groups don’t have easy and safe access, then its impact on the health of people will always be limited.”
This is why fighting for more accessible green spaces for less privileged young people has and continues to be important to Babbasa and our young people. “Marginalised communities aren’t often in areas with much green space, or easy access to safe green spaces. So it’s important that these projects are as inclusive as possible, because environmental improvements should benefit everyone.”
Since its publishing, the manifesto was featured in the refresh of the One City Plan in January 2020. Our Support Programme is also beginning to focus on incorporating more nature into our mental health schemes.