Parks have a special place in the modern urban landscape – they are publicly owned, free to use and exist simply for our enjoyment – regardless of our background or social background. Spending time outdoors provides respite from the stresses of everyday life, can lift spirits and improve wellbeing – enhancing everyday quality of life for all of us, and especially valuable to people fleeing danger and finding their way in a new country.
For the past year, we have been working with Sheffield University, Minor who work with migrants in Berlin, and Manchester University to look at how parks can improve quality of life for refugees and asylum seekers. We found that organisations working to support refugees and asylum seekers understandably focus their limited time on the pressing issues of housing, health, legal advice and so on, and they rarely think about sharing the benefits of parks for wellbeing, belonging and integration.
Some of the refugees and asylum seekers we interviewed found enjoyment and connection in open space:
“I like to see people happy. When we sit in the park we say ‘hello’ to people. When we see someone with an Arabic face we talk to them, but we talk to anyone if they can understand our English.” (Khalid, London)
“I prefer the outdoors because I am able to let the negative energy out when I am outside. Indoors I am stressed and feel more pressure.” (Tamara, Berlin)
We wanted to find a way to make it easy for refugee support organisations to talk to their clients about parks, and the “Let’s Talk About Parks” conversation pack is our solution.
Using images of different aspects of park life along with simple questions and activities, this set of cards is designed to prompt easy chats that provide key information.
Designed and tested with ESOL groups and conversation clubs, these cards provide facilitators with a highly visual language learning resource whilst also sparking great discussions about the range of activities and facilities in local parks.
Please feel free to download the “Let’s talk about parks” conversation cards to support your ESOL classes and conversation clubs and help refugees and asylum seekers explore the diversity of parks and what they offer new residents.
The activity cards and images need to be downloaded separately due to the large file format. Download using the links below:
Download the “Let’s talk about parks” activity cards.