THE search is on to find local people passionate about parks and community safety, to bid for funding to put social action ideas into play across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and ‘reclaim our parks’.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness wants to see family fun days, women’s safety parades, community clear-ups and park-based picnics breathe new life into our green spaces.

This is all part of the Safer Parks Project which has been rolled out across six parks across the Northumbria Police force area. The parks are: – Hirst Park, Richardson Dees Park, Leazes Park, Saltwell Park, North Marine Park and Mowbray Park.

To help put positive plans into action she is inviting local groups, organisations, youth clubs and sports teams to bid for a share of a £110K funding pot to help improve public confidence, park safety and ultimately reduce crime.

The funding opportunity is part of a major force-wide project designed to empower local residents and to support social action. This is where people come together to help improve lives and solve problems that are important in their communities.

Other ideas might be decorating our parks with posters or art designed to challenge attitudes and behaviours or setting up a women’s running club or outdoors youth group – all ideas are welcome.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “We’re lucky in Northumberland, Tyne and wear – we have some really great parks but 62% of local women told me they felt unsafe or very unsafe in their nearby park at night. And that needs to change and so I am inviting people to help me reclaim our parks.”

“There are 1.46 million people who live in the Northumbria Police force area and our parks are there to be enjoyed by every single one of them. We need to address the barriers and concerns head on – tackling equality and fighting for rights.”

The Commissioner hopes that with the right passion and enthusiasm, this funding will encourage more people to get involved with and benefit from everything our parks have to offer.

As part of the Commissioner’s Safer Parks Project, a number of other improvements are being rolled out to help particularly women, girls and marginalised groups feel safe as well as helping to reduce crime. Better lighting, help points, improved signage and the cutting back of vegetation to aid visibility are just some of the measures already being put in place.

As well as improving women’s safety, a lot of these improvements will also help reduce other crime such as ASB, drug dealing, and hate crime.

The funding follows years of austerity and Central Government funding cuts meant that the UK saw £15m cut from parks and green space budgets between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

Commenting on this, the Commissioner continued: “After years of austerity it’s always been a concern of mine that our parks don’t get the attention and resources they deserve. We really shouldn’t underestimate how our parks can benefit the health and well-being of communities in so many ways and they’re free to use for whatever – running, cycling, dog-walking, family time. We can only make the most of these spaces if people feel safe and comfortable using them though. Events celebrating our parks or standing up for our right to be safe in them are exactly what we are looking for.”

“This is why we are working hard to make change happen. My Safer Parks Northumbria Fund is about giving local groups who are passionate about parks the funds they need to help make the most of these spaces. Awareness campaigns, reporting initiatives, volunteering, safer hobbies – these are the types of things we want to hear about and I look forward to helping put them into action.”

The funding is being made available following the PCC’s successful bid to the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund.

For more information please visit the application page.

Closes Wednesday 9th February 2022.