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The Make Space for Girls Broomfield Park project is recruiting local girls, young women and non-binary teens to take part in a series of workshops starting this month aimed at teasing out what it is that deters them from using the park as a social space for "hanging out". The findings will be used in the design of new park facilities that they will be happy to make use of.

twoyoungwomenonswings 700pxHanging out with friends in public spaces is important for building confidence and social skills, and just relaxing and de-stressing, but why do we see so few teen girls in Broomfield Park?

Here in Palmers Green we're lucky to have Broomfield Park on our doorstep and luckier still to have the wonderful Friends of Broomfield Park working away to make it even better. On a visit to the park you'll find a real mixture of visitors enjoying the views and the various opportunities for fresh air, exercise, sport, sociability, coffee and cakes and communing with nature that it provides.

Not forgetting, of course, just chilling or hanging out with your friends, a favourite pastime of teenagers, important for building confidence and social skills, and just relaxing and de-stressing.

A couple of years ago it dawned on Sarah Cotton, the driving force behind the Palmers Greenery community cafe, that one particular group is under represented among visitors to the park: teenage girls. She says: "We really thought that teen girls would gravitate to the cafe as a safe space to hang out. But we almost never see them around our tables - it’s only ever groups of teen boys. Which got me noticing that we rarely see them in the park at all, unless it’s for organised sports like netball’.

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Make Space for Girls campaign for parks and public spaces to be designed for girls and young women, not just boys and young men

Then, via a podcast, she came across a campaign called Make Space for Girls, set up specifically to find out what it is that puts girls off from getting together in parks and to research and recommend ways of rebalancing the situation.

Using evidence-based research and applying principles of equality and engagement, Make Space for Girls have been empowering teenage girls to become involved in planning public spaces. By listening to girls’ perspectives, they are ensuring that the spaces become more accessible, enjoyable, and safe for everyone.

What the campaign has discovered is that the facilities for teens that councils across the country have been providing in parks have predominantly been of types that are much more popular with boys - fenced off multi-use games areas, skateparks, BMX tracks and so on - and many girls don’t use them because they don’t feel welcome or safe.

The absence of "space for girls" that the Broomfield Park project is designed to tackle is countrywide and is not confined to parks, as is evident from this video made as part of an LSE research study

You can read more about the research that Make Space for Girls have done in their Parkwatch Report. For example, 84% of young people active on skateparks were boys and young men, as were 92% of users of multi-use games facilities.

Research carried out by Women in Sport and Yorkshire Sport in 2022 also found that:

  • 49% of girls don’t feel safe to exercise in parks compared to 26% of boys
  • 59% of girls don’t feel welcome in parks because the spaces are dominated by boys.

The absence of provision for teenage girls impacts their rights, reduces their sense of belonging in the wider community and leads to reduced activity levels with consequent effects on both physical and mental health. So creating outdoor spaces which include them is important.

It's not just girls that are disadvantaged by the current teen provision. Some boys and non-binary young people feel unwelcome in skateparks, fenced pitches and BMX spaces, which can sometimes become very territorialised by dominant groups.

Sarah and the team behind the project want to change this and to quote a 16-year-old girl growing up in London who recently worked with the team:

"I want public spaces to make each and every young person feel comfortable, like they fit in, not worrying about am I meant to be here? Is this a space for me? That they all fit in in some type of way.”

Make Space for Girls Broomfield Park

At Sarah's prompting, and using seed money provided by the Palmers Greenery, the Friends of Broomfield Park are collaborating with Make Space for Girls and Enfield Council to launch the "Make Space for Girls Broomfield Park" project.

Phase 1 of the project starts this month. The Palmers Greenery is funding five after-school workshops for local girls, young women and non-binary teens, designed to tease out just what it is that puts them off using the park, to explore and co-design ideas of what’s needed to make it more appealing and welcoming to them, and to upskill participants to understand how spaces are created in parks, budgets, timelines and feasibility.

Do you know or are you a Teen Girl wanting to make a difference to your local park?

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There’s an exciting opportunity to shape how teen girls use Broomfield Park and get valuable DofE and/or Personal Statement volunteering at the same time!

The Palmers Greenery Community Cafe is funding workshops in partnership with Friends of Broomfield Park, national charity Make Space For Girls and Enfield Council where we can hear what changes you’d like to make our park safer and more welcoming!

We want to find out how teen girls use the park, what’s missing and what could be added to chill safely with friends.

WHEN: Wednesdays 4-6pm 5pm - 6.30pm

FROM: 17th April - 15th May

WHERE: Broomfield Park N13 - meet at the Palmers Greenery Community Cafe (by the tennis courts)

To find out more about the project and to complete a Parent/Carer Consent Form, click on the button below.

Read more about the Make Space for Girls Broomfield project on the Friends of Broomfield Park website

The workshops will be held in Broomfield Park between 5pm and 6.30pm on Wednesdays, starting on 17th April. Parents or carers will need to fill in a consent form.

Phase 2 is scheduled for this autumn. Funding is to be determined, but there will be a substantial contribution from the Palmers Greenery to mark its 10th Anniversary. This phase will involve:

  • Developing the design brief to final design
  • Securing additional funds
  • Additional workshops with phase 1 participants and others to agree final design
  • Tender and installation

And regardless of our age, we can all play a part by partaking of the delicious refreshments provided by Sarah and her team of volunteers at the Palmers Greenery, knowing that the profits will be ploughed into this and other projects aimed at making our community happier and healthier.

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PGC Webmaster posted a reply
17 Apr 2024 22:36

Please note that starting next Wednesday the weekly workshops in Broomfield Park will start at 5pm rather than 4pm.