Port Sunlight River Park wins Community Engagement accolade at 3rd Sector Care Awards

14th December 2016

Autism Together recognised for their outstanding achievements at the Land Trust site

Port Sunlight River Park has picked up the Community Engagement accolade at the 3rd Sector Care Awards in recognition of how the management team use the park to benefit thousands of people each year.

The Bromborough park, opened in autumn 2014, is leased to national land management charity the Land Trust and managed by Autism Together, who are working together to create an inclusive space that offers a variety of opportunities for its service users, as well as local residents and visitors.

Combining Autism Together’s remit of supporting people with autism and their families, and the Land Trust’s charitable aims around health, education and community cohesion, Ranger Anne Litherland and many volunteers have worked hard to exceed expectations.

Highlights of their achievements from the past two years include:

  • Each week, supporting 26 service users in the care of Autism Together to attend the park to maintain the pathways, signage and fencing, manage wildlife habitats and record wildlife.
  • Connecting the Wirral Circular Trail, a scenic signposted route, so it now continues through the park, and working with Sustrans to help make the park a community cycle hub.
  • Hosting regular dog walking events to encourage responsible dog ownership and family-friendly events such as bird box-making.
  • Encouraging around 250 people a year to participate as volunteers. All are now trained in autism awareness.
  • Ensuring that the park is becoming a haven for nature. Since its opening more than 90 species of birds have been recorded.

Autism Together Range Anne Litherland said: “From inspiring people to stop and notice nature and encouraging teamwork among people who find social interaction challenging, to generating pride in where people live and supporting wildlife monitoring projects; Port Sunlight River Park has done so much good. It has become an important education and support facility for Autism Together, an outdoor classroom for schools, and a place for everyone in the community to enjoy.”

Alan Carter, Director of Portfolio Management at the Land Trust, commented: “It’s great to see Port Sunlight River Park recognised in this way; credit to Ranger Anne, the Autism Together team and our Estate Manager Sarah Palgrave-Neath for the work they have done. We’re delighted that the health and care sector has recognised the park as an example of partnership working that brings people together for their own benefit, and to help others and support the environment.”

Robin Bush, Chief Executive Officer at Autism Together, added: “This valuable green space is bursting at the seams with green credentials; it has genuinely transformed an eyesore into a place of beauty and tranquility, transforming local people’s lives at the same time. The possibilities for its future development as an autism-friendly community resource for play, exercise, socialising, volunteering and nurturing and studying wildlife are endless.”

About Port Sunlight River Park:

  • The landfill reached the end of its operating life in 2006, and the Land Trust took a 99-year surface lease from Biffa to transform the site into an open public space. Biffa staff and infrastructure can still be seen on site, operating the leachate treatment plant that converts landfill gas to electricity.
  • The site covers 28 hectares and has opened up access to the River Mersey estuary in this area for the first time in a generation.
  • The mound is 37 metres high.
  • Over 750 people attended the first birthday in August 2015 and 1,000 people attended the second.
  • Up to 500 people visit daily and it is regularly used by five running groups and eight cycling groups.
  • There are regular volunteering activities taking place, including outdoor conservation and hazard removal, bird patrols and health walks.

A Land Trust community survey revealed:

  • 95% said the park has helped to improve the local area
  • 80% said it brings the community together
  • 92% said it encourages them and others to keep fit and healthy
  • 99% said the park helps the environment

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Esther Rantzen presents the award to the Port Sunlight River Park team


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