Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Working Together

This blog is written by Linda Mason in her capacity as acting Secretary of Friends of Park Lime Pits.

Last night after being assured that a suitable post surgery sitter for my partner had been found, I attended a very interesting and informative meeting of the Walsall Friends and User Group Network. Basically this is an umbrella group offering advice, support and a voice to all of the Green Space user and friends groups in Walsall.

I'm fairly certain a fair number of you were not aware of the existence of the Network but it is there and it is looking to become bigger, better, more supportive and to have more of a voice. After all, the Network in effect represents the interests of thousands of green space users in Walsall.

One of the speakers at the meeting was Sarah Royal of the Birmingham Open Spaces Forum.  BOSF is a very effective organisation and the aims of Walsall's Network are very similar if not the same. BOSF is a support group and meeting place for all of Birmingham's parks, playing fields, nature reserves, allotments and cemeteries  In other words Birmingham's Green Spaces. They started off very small back in 2006 and now encompass 150 groups throughout Birmingham and are a registered charity. They provide support, encouragement and a community voice for all of Birmingham's Green Spaces. They also work very closely with the council and have regular meetings with the Head of Parks, amongst others. They are a valued organisation at Birmingham Council because they are a community voice that really cannot be ignored.

Walsall's Network would like to plant it's own acorn in Walsall and nurture it into a mighty oak, speaking for all friends and user groups in the town. Working together, the Network could become a powerful voice that cannot be ignored by Walsall Council. To work in conjunction with the Council for the mutual benefit of everyone concerned and who love their own and all of Walsall's Green Spaces would be an incredible thing.

The Network will shortly publish details of its AGM and all Friends and User Groups are welcome to attend. This will be a social gathering too and there will be opportunities to seek advice and assistance for your own group. I will publicise all the details when I have them.

Some groups may feel that they have everything under control and don't need the Network. I can understand that, they're possibly doing very well with some very committed and knowledgeable volunteers. however things can and do change and very quickly, so I urge everyone to send a representative along. Not only can you share some of your experience with other new groups and less experienced volunteers but the old adage of 'united we stand' has never been more true in the current economic climate that we live in. We need to stand together, discuss our problems, share our solutions and plan with the Council, all together, in order that we can do our very best for Walsall's Green Spaces.

There may be some people out there and reading this that love their small green space be it an allotment, a community garden, a park, a playing field or a nature reserve or cemetery for which there is no friend or user group in existence. You're very welcome to come along and perhaps be enthused enough to form a group with help and assistance from others.

If you need more information then please do email me taxwizzard AT gmail DOT com or through the email shown at the top of this blog. Together with the Network and Walsall Council we can take Walsall's Green Spaces to a new level and look forward to a positive future of co-operation and the mutual benefits that will bring to all  green space users and future generations.

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