Green Spaces In Your City – Why They Are So Important?

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Green Spaces are domestic gardens, parks and woodlands (Photograph – Chloe Cawood)

It is now estimated that half of the population live in cities. This metropolitan lifestyle so many brits are now living appears to be the norm, however there are cons to the ever-growing population in urban areas. It results in more vehicles on the road, more trees getting cut down to build new infrastructure and consequently more pollution.

In Greater Manchester, the most significant pollutant is Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) which forms primarily from road traffic emissions. A supreme court case found that large cities such as Manchester and London are at illegal levels of pollution; according to EU standards.

The pollution index in Manchester bases itself on NO2 which often exceeds health standards, particularly by the city centre and busy roads such as Oxford Road.  It is estimated that Manchester will not comply to the legal until 2020.

Areas which exceed government standards can be viewed on the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) Map.

However, traffic and pollution levels on Oxford Road sparked the transformation to redevelop the road into a pedestrian friendly street; giving priority to cyclists and buses.

 

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Building new homes is leading to green spaces being demolished (Photograph- Chloe Cawood)

Due to the increase in population, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of green space being demolished to be replaced with ‘artificial surface’, which includes housing.

Research into the benefits of more green spaces in urban areas have proven that they can help tackle climate change and air pollution. Domestic gardens and parks filled with trees and shrubs can improve air quality simply by removing harmful gases and particles from the air as well as cooling the air with the shade they provide.

The lack of fully conditioned green space in cities is now more of an environmental issue then ever as materials used to build cities absorb more sun than natural resources. This means that temperatures in urban areas are typically higher than rural areas by one to two degrees; highlighting the need for more green space within the city.

Investing in more green space not only benefits the environment but it can dramatically improve lifestyles for the people it surrounds. Links between spending time in green space and better mental health have been found including lower stress levels. Additionally, levels of physical activity could increase if the public had easy access to many open outdoor spaces; potentially saving money on healthcare.

A lack of green space can result in over-use as many have nowhere else to go which often leads to vandalism and visitors never returning to the place.

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   Links between spending time in green space and better  mental health have been found  (Photograph – Chloe Cawood)

Although it can be costly to invest in green spaces, once they are efficient, they can provide a huge boost in the economy.  An urban oasis attracts even more tourists by making a city appear more aesthetically pleasing. This combined with the opportunity to decrease air-conditioning shows how essential green spaces are needed in our society.

Government cuts and focuses on building infrastructure within cities means that green spaces are often underappreciated and underfunded. This means that other organisation have had to step in to support the expansion and maintaining of community gardens, woodlands and parks.

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Community Gardens are essential to helping pollution levels in urban areas (Photograph – Chloe Cawood)

Much of the support comes from campaigns such as Manchester’s own ‘Tree Trail‘ and the national campaign, ‘Grow Wild’  who work to bring communities together to transform local areas with wild flowers and pollinator-friendly plants. It’s funding comes from ‘The Big Lottery Fund’ which supports good causes through money from The National Lottery.

The ‘Grow Wild’ programme funds over 150 outdoor projects across the United Kingdom as well as giving out thousands of free seed packets to citizens each year. However, the funding programme is due to end in April 2017; making it clear that green space funding is an issue to be addressed in current politics.


On the other hand, The Manchester City Council claims that 20% of the city is classed as tree covered. They have stated on their website, “By 2025 high-quality, well-maintained green and blue spaces will be an integral part of all neighbourhoods. The cities communities will be living healthy, fulfilled lives, enjoying parks and green spaces and safe green routes for walking, cycling and exercise throughout the city. ”

However, with pollution levels over the limit with no plan to reduce this till 2020 funding and work for green space is an urgent issue which cannot be ignored.

To get involved in raising awareness and helping green spaces thrive you can get involved with organisations such as “Grow Wild.” Additionally, you can volunteer to help work at local community gardens such as Hulme Garden Centre.

Not only does this benefit the environment, but it is an opportunity to meet new people as well as help you become more physically active and improve your well being.
This issue needs to be pushed through government agenda so another way to help raise awareness is by attending city council meetings which deal with city planning.

Find your latest local pollution levels Here.

 

 

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New Support System Launched By Creative Arts Centre

  • A Hulme creative arts centre has launched a new supporter scheme to enable more families access it’s services.

  • ‘Z-Arts’, a charity and venue based on Stretford Road have established a brand-new way to raise money to allow a new young generation of people access the centre and gain more from it.

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    Outside Z-Arts (Photograph – Chloe Cawood)

    Because artistic subjects are fading from the national curriculum, Z-arts are introducing a new scheme to keep providing creative inspirations for children. This new system has been put in place to generate the much-needed funds to support the organisation’s growth and offer help to even more to children and families from Manchester.

    Liz O’Neill, The Chief Executive of Z’Arts stated in a press release, “It is Z-Arts’ ambition to inspire and enable generations of young people from across Manchester and beyond to use creativity to maximise their potential. The new supporters scheme will really help towards us achieving this mission”

    From the 1st April, donations made to Z-Arts can be represented on three different levels and these supporters will become part of what is known as the ‘Z-Arts Supporters Tree.’This system is being supported by the ‘Arts Council Catalyst Evolve funding.’ This means that every donation received will be matched, pound for pound.

    Those who donate from £4 per month will be labelled as seeding supports and will gain access to season launches. Donations from £10 a month (or ‘Leaf Supporters’) can receive exclusive admission to the season’s events and activities before they launch. Contributors who give over £500 per year will be represented as a ‘Tree’ and will receive free VIP tickets.

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                                   Z-Arts offers many creative activities such as dance classes                              (Photograph – Chloe Cawood)

    Z-Arts are an award-winning organisation after winning the 2017 Lever Prize for ‘Best Family Venue.’ It provides facilities for children to become involved in creative activities such as language classes, theatre performances and an array of dance classes. The centre’s funding also helps support its work with schools in Greater Manchester.

    To those considering joining the support system, Liz O’Neill said, “It’s extremely important to us that as many children and their families as possible get access to high quality creative arts to help them achieve their potential. I would like to encourage you to sign up now and help support the next generation of artists, doctors, politicians and teachers”

    You can join the Z-Arts support system and donate here

    Find out what’s on at Z-Arts.

    Z – Arts is based on Stretford Road, Hulme:

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Hulme Garden Centre In Urgent Need Of Volunteers

By Chloe Cawood

  • “Lots of helping hands are needed” – Hulme Community Garden Centre  is reaching out to members of the public for willing volunteers to help work on it’s green space during the busy spring season.
  • Having well nurtured green spaces are essential to benefitting our environment, particularly in urban areas. 
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    Entrance to Hulme Garden Centre.  (Photograph- Chloe Cawood)

    Now Winter has been and gone, there are many roles available to help make sure Spring is blossoming at the centre. Holly Silvester, an activities co-ordinator at Hulme Garden Centre said; “Lots of helping hands are needed as there is an awful lot to do.” She explained that the roles of seeding, potting and planting are most essential to fill at this moment in time.

    The centre also offers many other ways for volunteers to support it’s green space. A diverse range of positions are available such as; volunteering in the forest garden, the nursery and the pond. Additionally, there are Enterprise Sessions which involves recycling materials and finding a new use for objects which would have been thrown away.

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    Garden Shed at Hulme Garden Centre (Photograph Chloe Cawood)


    Despite having over 100 active volunteers at the centre in their peak Spring and Summer months, their numbers decreased over the quieter Winter weeks. This has sparked a concern for the community garden’s well-being as volunteers are the back-bone of it’s progress. The centre invites people from all cultural and ethical backgrounds to volunteer solo or as a group. Holly Silvester stated, “We wouldn’t be here without the help of our volunteers.”

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    Strolling through the Community Garden (Photograph – Chloe Cawood)  


    To those who are considering volunteering, the centre invites them to come visit at any time to get outside in a beautiful green environment. The centre offers an array of options for people to expand their skills and meet new people.

    If you are interested in offering a helping hand at the centre, New volunteers will need to firstly complete an induction held at 1.30pm on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

    Hulme Garden Centre is based at 28 Old Birley Street, Manchester, M15 5RG and is open every day throughout Easter.

    You can you can now donate to keep Hulme Garden Centre open at all times.

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