King George V Park, Edinburgh
The City of Edinburgh Council and the local community of King George V Park in Edinburgh have managed to create a brilliant area in their park for young people. The story starts with a community policeman who addressed youths that were hanging out in a school play area. He asked them to go to the local park instead, but the youngsters told him that there was nothing to do in the park. The policeman organised a meeting to discuss the problem and instead of the expected handful, a hundred came along! There were lots of ideas to make the area better for young people.
The Community Learning & Development team of Edinburgh Council and the Local Friends group worked together with the local youths and came up with a plan. An area in the park that was formerly used as a railway yard would become a cool space for youths to hang out. Initial funding was obtained from the North Neighbourhood, City of Edinburgh Council. The Council’s Senior Technical Officer in Parks & Greenspace, James Galloway, designed the new layout for the Park in partnership with the Friends group, and the Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust came on board to help raise additional funding and to manage the project. The Trust managed to secure funding from Biffa Award and a private charitable trust, to match the Council’s funding contribution.
The Friends’ vision for the project was to create a space that would be a great place to hang out and there was a specific interest in sculptural and architectural elements that suited the industrial history of the area.
The design for the area included sculptural elements from the beautiful Silhouette range from Russell Play. The Friends of group and the local youths were very enthusiastic about these urban play pieces and with the funding secured, the plan could go ahead.
Action for Children funded a work experience project for local unemployed teenagers. This created the opportunity for 6 work placements for 6 weeks. The youths tidied up the area, laid slabs and paving and leveled the area so a table tennis table could be installed.
The former yard has become a great place in Edinburgh’s King George V park and the local youths feels they ‘own’ the site. This is not the end of the story, since there are more plans for youth engagement projects like work on planting and environmental art.
We are very interested to see what is going to happen next in this active community!