Hannah Worthington, Torbay Green Spaces Development Officer for Groundwork South, continues her reflections on why green spaces matter more than ever, and the people that help ensure they are looked after
Ask Mark Johnson and Greg Lowe what they do day-to-day and you’d be wise to settle back with a cuppa, because the list is long.
As park rangers for Torbay Council, their tasks can range from fixing park benches to repairing gates, carrying out safety checks to unblocking stream culverts, and liaising with contractors to rescuing injured swans or even a badger trapped in a skate park ‘bowl’!
Not your normal nine-to-five then.
Mark and Greg see the role as part-ranger, part-community support officer and part-‘council ambassador’.
As council staff on the ground, people approach them to report a problem, say thanks for the work the team do, ask about a facility or to let them know about an at-risk person in a park.
While they can’t resolve every issue, the rangers do their best to provide information, a listening ear and sometimes a first step towards finding a safe place.
Some parks do, of course, have additional caretakers in the form of Green Space groups.
The rangers see the positive impact these groups make, not only to the sites but also to the people involved and are keen to extol their efforts; without them their jobs would be that bit harder.
So, it’s a challenging job but is it rewarding? The answer to this is a definitive yes.
For both men, seeing the pleasure that park users get from enjoying a swing, a stroll, a rest on a bench to take in a view of the Bay or admire some planting makes the job worthwhile.
The rangers also explain how at times it can be heart breaking – finding a play area has been vandalised or a park strewn with litter – because of the impact that incidences have on the people that value it as a space to exercise, play or to find a little bit of calm.
These two men understand that, just as each community has its own green space, so each green space has its own community and by working together we can all ensure that these important spaces are used, valued, and cared for.
• To find out more about Green Space groups, contact Hannah Worthington on 07940 510616 or email firstname.lastname@example.org