Help us to keep your park open – Chair’s reflections from a pandemic

Lucy Hadfield, chair of Friends of Ruskin Park This a personal perspective of a Friend of Ruskin Park. The past three weeks have been so extraordinary. The pace and tragedies of the pandemic, the escalating curtailment of our freedoms, the importance of parks and our emotional responses to these, have all been at the centre both of public debate and of our individual lives.

Meanwhile, to prevent Covid 19 infection, the Friends, like groups everywhere, have had to virtually stop valued activities, for example, volunteer groups for gardening and litter-picking. We have cancelled a public ‘have your say’ planned for the end of April. Plans are still being made for the summer fete and bandstand concerts, but we don’t know yet if they can go ahe2m distance markings in a parkad. Uncertainty is the new norm.

For now, parks are understandably, an attractive ‘last’ public place where we can go. Therefore Ruskin Park is having unprecedented numbers all day. Most are behaving well, some sadly seemingly without thought or care. Public parks are sensitive eco-systems with their vulnerabilities and limitations. So in order to look after ourselves and our fellow citizens, and to care for the park we love, we should each keep our visits down to a minimum time. Now, only for one safe episode of individual, or family, exercise. A few may need to sit briefly to rest, but no lingering or touching. We must accept that areas are being screened off because social distancing may be compromised and/or they are vulnerable to damage from being used by simply too many people (e.g. the wildlife garden, bandstand). We will see protection/enforcement personnel in Ruskin Park.

Friends of Ruskin Park has been active as a mouthpiece between the park users and Lambeth Landscapes as things change daily. Lambeth Landscapes staff are working under great pressure and deserve our support. We were behind chalking simple social distancing messages on the paths before notices could be put up. We want to thank all those park users who have helped our cause by behaving wisely and following government messages.

We hope parks can stay open, but that depends not only on the vagaries of Covid 19, but on all of us. Friends of Ruskin Park will continue, when we can, to work for an even brighter future for Ruskin Park.

Lucy Hadfield