Back to November 2018

Local Parks Revealed as Crucial to Community

  • Leeds Building Society research found nearly 70% of those surveyed believe their local park could do with an upgrade
  • Local parks are important to mental health and wellbeing, with 70% of Brits using them as their key place to relax and unwind
  • Four in five (88%) Brits really value their local outdoor space within the community

New research* released today by Leeds Building Society, reveals just how much Brits value their local community spaces, and the impact they have on our wellbeing.

The study explores how important local parks and open spaces are when it comes to making people feel connected to their communities, shows four in five (86%) really value them and 97% would miss having one at their disposal if it wasn’t there. In addition, almost a third (31%) said their local park makes them feel connected to their community.

The research also shows the diversity of our local parks and open spaces when it comes to how they are used, with more than half (57%) using them to go for walk in their spare time, 41% to attend a free community or council event at least once a year, and 20% visit one at least once a month.

Despite this, seven in 10 (70%) believe their local space would benefit from upgrades, and almost a third (31%) believe it would benefit from more arranged community or council events.

Peter Hill, CEO at Leeds Building Society said: “It’s clear how important local parks and open spaces are for helping to foster a sense of wellbeing and genuine connections with local communities, with 86% saying they really do value them. Our local parks and spaces are so diverse when it comes to how they’re used, whether it be for running or exercise groups such as parkrun, food festivals, a family walk or even just a space to take time out and read a book.

“Leeds Building Society is committed to supporting local communities and that’s why we’re proud to partner with parkrun UK. parkrun is a vital initiative to bring communities together, it’s a simple way for adults and families to make priceless local connections and friendships, while getting fit at the same time.

“Our partnership supports the organisation by helping to ensure the weekly events up and down the country remain free forever. We’re also always working on new initiatives to help improve parkrun communities such as the Leeds Building Society Community Reward Scheme which launched earlier this year and provides   funding and volunteer support to help improve parkrun communities.”

Leeds Building Society’s Community Reward Scheme was launched in May 2018 to provide funding and volunteer support to projects that help improve local parkrun communities. A total of £50,000 will be shared across successful projects, to make improvements and a real difference to parkrun events and the wider community. Five parkruns across the country have been awarded to date including, Doncaster parkrun which has successfully received funding to build a memorial garden in remembrance of a fellow parkrunner who passed away and Clare Castle parkrun in Sudbury that is using its funding to make improvements to its paths.

Last month parkrun celebrated its 14th anniversary and saw the five millionth person sign up to its 5k events that are open to walkers and runners. In the UK, parkruns take place every weekend in 800 local parks and open spaces across the country.

According to the survey, more than half (52%) said they would rather be physically active outdoors, with one in six (16%) saying they need extra motivation from being in a group.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, founder of parkrun said: “This research shows how strongly people rely on their local parks and open spaces as a place to socialise and be physically active, and the success of parkrun to date is a prime example of how much people value and utilise them.

“Our entire ethos is based on bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together every weekend in the great outdoors for a free community event. It’s partnerships with the likes of Leeds Building Society that are important to help ensure that parkrun stays free forever.  

For more information on the Leeds Building Society Community Reward Scheme and how to apply for funding, visit:


Notes to Editors

*Research carried out by Leeds Building Society in September 2018, with a panel of 2,001 general respondents in the UK.

About Leeds Building Society

For over 140 years, Leeds Building Society has been helping its members save and have the home they want. The UK’s 5th largest building society and operates throughout the UK and Gibraltar. The Society’s head office has been based in the centre of Leeds since 1886.

About parkrun

A charity that supports volunteers In local communities across 20 countries to deliver free, weekly, community events for walkers and runners of all ages and abilities. 1.8 million people across the UK have taken part in a parkrun, with 118,000 volunteers delivering the events in 2017 alone.

Media contacts:

Gabriella Smith: Tel: 0113 2200540

Kiran Watson: Tel: 0113 220 0715