Highfield Park Trust Winter Newsletter 2019

Survey results are in!

We thought it would be appropriate to use this    edition of our newsletter to feedback the results from the recent Community Engagement Survey.  Firstly, many thanks to the 155 people who took the time to respond and to make us aware of your thoughts about Highfield Park and the work of the Highfield Park Trust more generally.  The survey ran from the middle of October until early November and although the majority of participants replied online, we were able to capture several responses manually during a very hectic Apple Day. 

Local and regular users of the Park  contributed    significantly, making the results as relevant as they could be. 72% of respondents live in the AL4 postcode and 81% stated that they used the Park at least once a week.  43% were aged between 26 and 50 and  37% between 51 and 65.

The headline result was very pleasing to see, with an average score of 3.6 out of 4 on how highly people rated the Park and the events run by the Trust.

This result  recognises the tremendous team effort that goes into everything we do and, as I’ve said    before, we punch above our weight in so many different ways.

This of course is due to the dedication of both the paid employees and the numerous unpaid people who do such amazing things. Those who pitch up to help with our events, others who regularly litter pick, bake cakes, help out in the office and of course the team of Trustees, partners and friends who also give up so much of their time.

Unlike our previous survey in 2011, we included a completely free text entry for suggestions on what other amenities, features or events people would like to see in the Park. This led to some very long lists and it became quite difficult to distil all this information into a summary chart, however, after some perseverance, we came up with the above conclusions.

Children’s Play became the catch-all category for   every thing playground related and there were many variations on a theme, including traditional swings, slides and climbing frames, to more natural play areas.

We have discussed this before and have previously applied, unsuccessfully, for a grant to pay for a new natural play area  in woodland behind the pavilion.  Later, we were able to secure funding from the “Bags of Help” scheme for the Trestle play equipment, but we felt that we never gained the traction we expected and disappointingly only came third in the vote off, which compromised the equipment we could install. 

Keeping a rural focus also contained many suggestions. A lot of respondents requested that the Trust do absolutely nothing, but maintain the existing character of the Park and many actively requested that the Trust resist calls to install additional play equipment or features such as a splash park. Others made some heartfelt suggestions relating to our ponds and meadows. All very interesting and of course causing some conflict within the results. Something for us to mull over.

There was certainly no holding back when it came to listing possible new events, although musical themed attractions seemed to feature heavily. Planning for next year has already started and we hope to satisfy calls for theatre and the return of Opera Anywhere within our existing plans, but again we need to reflect on the results.

Calls for a café were expected as it usually features in any conversation like this.  Such a venture would

require a lot of planning as it would be a massive undertaking for the Trust and something that we could not afford to get wrong, even assuming we could get planning permission for a new building. It then raises all sorts of questions about where it could be located, as we strive to be a good neighbour, but never say never.

I also thought that you would like to see some of the many comments made about the Park and the work of the Trust more generally. Good and bad!

It gives Highfield an identity

More rubbish bins please as well as poop bins.

We are so grateful and appreciative of the work the Trust do to maintain and protect ‘our’ park which is a wonderful asset in unifying our community and reconnecting with our natural environment. Thank you.

You’re doing a great job. Our family spends a lot of time in the park, and we appreciate all the hard work put in to keeping it so nice.

You should be proud of all you do and don’t underestimate how much it is appreciated.

I think is a fabulous amenity that is a credit to all involved.

I feel the park is not designed for a young family to enjoy.

Tarmac needs doing.

It’s really great that you try to engage the local community. Well done!

The park is beautiful, it’s incredibly well maintained and educational. I love it!!

There is a real litter problem in the park. My daughter went litter picking at the weekend and we were shocked at how much rubbish there was.

Human litter is a problem.

The Park is beautifully maintained and where there have been problems or issues such as unfinished paths, unemptied dog-poo bins, there has always been effective communication from the Trust and from staff.

Thank you to everyone who makes Highfield Park such a lovely place to visit.  It is so well kept, has lots of different features that make it interesting to visit for me and my young family.

More poo bins. Other than that, I think it works pretty well.

Fantastic facility – am really delighted to live almost next to it. And great events – bats, nature, history etc.

Living nearby with a young child, the park is a wonderful haven. It’s somewhere we can always go for an hour or so whenever we fancy getting out and about.

Make it more family friendly.

Highfield Park Trust does an amazing job.

We always enjoy walking  in the park, hope you can get more of the pathways resurfaced soon.

I think the Trust does a brilliant job and really helps to bring the community together with events like Apple Day. Keep it up

The park is beautifully run and feel very lucky to live here.

Highfield is an oasis of calm and beauty and is very well maintained throughout the year. It is a much valued natural space.

The last thing to say about the survey at the moment is that we are very grateful to the 38 people who indicated that they were prepared to volunteer in some capacity in the future. We will be in contact shortly.

At the time of writing, we have not met to discuss these results, but we will do so before the end of the year and I’ll keep you abreast of development via this newsletter and online.

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year. And Enjoy the Park!

Tim Abbott

Chair of Trustees

Please do come and join us at our annual Festive Café on Friday 13th December at the Visitor Centre.

Mince pies, tea and coffee will be available and there won’t be a charge. It’s our way of saying thank you for your support during another very busy year for the Trust.

Early in the New Year, we’ll be running our ‘brilliant but bonkers’  Wassailing event where we have an opportunity for us to drink to the health of our fruit trees and scare away evil spirits (including the folk who pinched our apples this year!!). Free refreshments will be available. The Trust would like to thank the Parish Council for sponsoring this event again.

***** 2020  Confirmed  *****

Luna— 1st and 2nd July

Abbey Theatre—10th to 12th July

Opera Anywhere will return!

PLUS Joe, Sarah and Sue will continue to run their nature and history events throughout the year.

***** New Groundsman ******

The Trust is delighted to announce that John Walker has joined the team. More details in the next edition.