The Land Trust welcomes nearly 2.5 million visitors to its parks and green spaces in 2020-21 as charity publishes Annual Review

26th January 2022

National land management charity, the Land Trust, welcomed nearly 2.5 million people to their parks and green spaces for the first time in the charity’s sixteen year history in 2020-21.

The rise in visitor numbers, driven largely by the Covid-19 pandemic, came as a direct result of the Land Trust team of staff, managing partners and volunteers working so hard to keep the Trust’s green spaces open for communities to use throughout the various periods of lockdown.

Writing in the Trust’s 2021 Annual Review, Land Trust Chief Executive, Euan Hall, said:

“With over 80 parks and green spaces within our portfolio we knew we had a huge responsibility to our communities to keep our sites open for people to use.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a terrible time for so many people. However, while there have been so many negatives there have also been positives and people’s new found appreciation for the natural environment and parks and green spaces has been one of them.

“Although we were unable to deliver our usual programme of activity, just being able to keep our spaces open made a huge difference, enabling our communities to use them throughout the pandemic which we know was incredibly important for their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Although the Trust faced challenging restrictions throughout the various periods of lockdown the charity was still able to deliver a huge amount of activity which benefited a wide range of participants.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the Trust’s flagship education and training programme, Green Angels.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Trust had to suspend many of our activities or run them at vastly reduced numbers to ensure they were safe. However we were acutely aware that many of our Green Angels trainees relied on our activities for their physical and mental wellbeing so our team worked incredibly hard to engage with our trainees and support them through this challenging time.

Throughout the first period of lockdown the team produced fantastic newsletters packed full of activities and ideas for trainees to complete from the safety of their own home or gardens or while taking their daily exercise.

As Covid-19 restrictions eased at various stages some activities were able to be resumed in person, with limited numbers and appropriate social distancing measures in place. Our Green Angels team and trainees adapted and made a success of the very challenging scenarios placed in front of them.

The Land Trust also went to great lengths to continue to engage with our service charge customers across eight developments. With community engagement at the heart of the Trust’s service charge business model engaging with our customers has been incredibly important.

While Covid-19 restrictions made this far more difficult our service charge team adapted quickly, hosting resident meetings online and providing regular updates through our dedicated social media pages.

The Trust also recognised that many of our customers may face financial hardship due to the pandemic and so offered flexible payment plans for any customers who were struggling to pay. Although we were unable to run our usual seasonal events we made great efforts to organise activities, particularly during the Christmas period, when we ran a very popular storytelling event online which was attended by customers from across our service charge portfolio.

This hard work paid off and despite all the restrictions the Land Trust faced the charity was still able to deliver nearly £2 million of economic value on our service charge spaces while receiving over 200,000 visitors.

Land Trust staff at the opening of Dawlish Countryside Park

Land Trust Chair, Bill Hiscocks, who was elected to the role in December 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, said that there were many challenges to be overcome by the Trust in order to keep the charity’s sites open, while also enabling the Trust to add three new sites to its expanding portfolio.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the UK in March 2020 it was a hugely uncertain time for the Land Trust. Following my appointment as Chair of the organisation in December 2019 I did not expect to be facing such an unprecedented situation during my first few months in the role.

“Covid-19 threw many obstacles in the Land Trust’s path. The first, and immediate priority, was considering how best to keep our sites open and safe for our communities to use during this incredibly challenging time. However, as Chair of the organisation, there were also a huge amount of other issues to consider.

“How would the pandemic affect the long-term financial position of the Trust? How was the transition to home working affecting the morale of our passionate and dedicated staff team? With so much of our new business work conducted face to face with clients how would it affect the transfer of new parks and green spaces to the Land Trust’s portfolio?

“Two years later I am very proud of the way the Trust overcame these obstacles to deliver a huge amount of physical and mental wellbeing benefit to our communities.”

You can read more about the Trust’s achievements in 2020-21 in our Annual Review here.

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