Now more than ever we need to value our parks and protect public spaces such as Ladywell Fields and Hilly Fields, writes Tony Rich, chair of Ladywell Fields User Group.
During the coronavirus lockdown our parks and green spaces are crucial for exercise and mental wellbeing.
For those of us in London who do not have access to a garden they offer a lifeline.
We need to be able to run, jog, cycle, relax and enjoy the natural world in our parks.
On the 250th anniversary of his birth, it seems apt to remember some of the sentiments expressed by William Wordsworth, the great English poet of nature and open spaces.
Wordsworth put strong faith in nature and in his famous poem The Tables Turned he is confident nature is the best teacher rather than books.
We know that our parks help improve air quality, prevent flooding, and create habitats for wildlife as well as being oases of calm and reflection.
But now as we face at least three more weeks of lockdown they will be vital to helping us keep our sanity.
But to ensure our parks can continue to play this role and stay open for everyone to use, we have to follow government rules to stop the spread of COVID-19.
These mean one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
And even when doing this, you should minimise time spent outside of the home and ensure you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
Lewisham has kept all its parks open so far although facilities such as playgrounds, outdoor gyms, public toilets, and cafes have been shut.
But in other London boroughs several have been closed temporarily amid fears people were flouting government rules. The government has insisted parks should stay open.
Many of our parks were created by social reformers and local people demanding green spaces for recreation. They were seen as places of relief from cramped slums and tenements in Victorian Britain.
Hilly Fields was only saved from development by the protests of local residents and fundraisers including Octavia Hill, the reformer and co founder of the National Trust.
So let’s make sure we use our parks sensibly in this crisis..
Do not visit a park if you have any Covid 19 Symptoms – fever, coughs, shortness of breath or are self-isolating.Stay local and use parks and green spaces close to your home.
Only go outside alone or with members of your own household.
Gatherings of more than two people in parks or other public spaces have been banned.
Keep your dog on a lead at all times.
Follow hygiene advice when you are outside, avoid touching surfaces and wash your hands as soon as you are back home.