Why green spaces like Gott’s Park are more important than ever for your mental health

2 April 2020

Key parks in Leeds such as Gott’s Park in Armley and Middleton Park are owned by Wade’s Charity and managed by Leeds City Council. Wade’s trustee TIM BARBER writes about their benefits to your mental health during the Corona Virus lockdown.

gotts park armley
Doorway to fitness and wellbeing in Gotts Park. Photo: Wade’s Charity

It’s generally recognised that parks and open spaces have all sorts of benefits to people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Government even stated in a recent Public Health Matters blog that “a good quality natural landscape in urban areas can affect how people feel. It reduces sadness, lifts the mood and makes us feel better”. With present nationwide lockdown due to Corona Virus – these green spaces are more important than ever.

The Government also recently stated that: “We know that people who live in cities and towns that have more green space have better mental health.”

At present all Leeds City parks are open for daily exercise – walking, cycling, dog walks and running, (although many of the facilities such as skateparks, bowling greens, outdoor gym equipment and playgrounds are closed).

With present restrictions in place meaning people can only get out of the house once a day for fresh air and exercise our parks are playing a huge role.

Many residents of Leeds are unaware of Wade’s Charity, the small grants we provide small charities and the wealth of parks and green spaces we own in the city.

Gotts Park Mansion

They are often surprised to find out that Wade’s Charity lands include Middleton Park, Gotts Park in Armley and Beckett Park in Headingley, which we own and lease to Leeds City Council at a peppercorn rent.

We also own many playing fields and recreation grounds in Leeds in areas such as Burmantofts, Rodley, Adel, Osmondthorpe, East Leeds, Cross Green and Hunslet, as well as communal open spaces such as the woodland at Gledhow.

With Health Commissioners having recognised the use of the natural environment to improve health and wellbeing – they are starting to refer to use of England’s parks, woodland and other green spaces as “THE NATURAL HEALTH SERVICE” in a more holistic approach to healthcare.

With Wade’s Charity owning so much green space within Leeds, used by thousands of people each day we like to think we are a major player as Leeds Natural Health Service.

Furthermore, recent evidence submitted to Public Health England on their Inquiry into Benefits of Public Parks starts to shed light on why green spaces actually improve mental health.

It clearly states “healthy places make people feel comfortable and at ease and reducing anti-social behaviour, isolation and stress” and that these green spaces “are restorative, uplifting and healing for both physical and mental conditions”.

During these unprecedented times, whether people use our green space for physical exercise, to get closer to nature, to relax, to walk their dog or ride a bike, take their kids for a stroll or just grab half an hours peace and quiet on their lunch hour – all these interactions have tangible benefits to people’s mental health.

The Rose Garden in Gotts Park. Photo: Friends of Armley and Gotts Park

Wade’s Charity do stress the importance of people using our parks responsibly during the Covid-19 outbreak, especially as more people than ever will be taking advantage of them for their fix of exercise.

Please give everybody enough space and give people a 2m gap if jogging or passing people whilst walking.

“Our natural environment during lock down plays a vital role in keeping individuals, families and communities healthy.”

It’s not just us who recognise the mental health benefits of green open space – the World Health Authority (WHO) also stated recently “Green spaces are important to mental health.

Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being, and aid in treatment of mental illness. Some analysis suggests that physical activity in a natural environment can help remedy mild depression and reduce physiological stress indicators”.

So next time you have a stroll in the park – stop for a moment and think of the benefits to you both physically and mentally, but also to all those other people enjoying the fresh air. Or if you’re feeling a bit low – why not take a walk in one of our green spaces and watch the world go by. You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel.

Wade’s Charity is seen by the few that know as Leeds best kept secret but our lands are really coming into their own and making a real difference during this crisis.

To find out more about Wade’s Charity including our small grants scheme, our green open spaces and a history that dates back to 1530 (we’re Leeds’ oldest charity) – visit our website.

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John Bean says:

What a lovely photo of the arched doorway from the garden area to the park. My gt gt grandfather worked for Benjamin Gott as gardener and farmer in the early 1800’s. According to my knowledge from family over the years, he built some of the rose & flower gardens on the estate along with living in a number of properties around the estate over his 30+ years working for the Gott family. I hope to visit the park, to tread in his footsteps as it were, once the current crisis is over as I’m over 70 so limited at present.