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#refugeeswelcome in parks

Why parks?

Sitting in the sunshine, playing footy, watching ducks on a lake, finding a flower that you recognise…

credit Nafsika Michail


#RefugeesWelcome in Parks  project believes that parks are a fantastic part of British culture and heritage, and can play an important role in supporting the wellbeing and integration of refugee and asylum seekers. University of Sheffield Landscape Department research learnt about the ways in which newcomers to our towns and cities enjoy (and don’t enjoy) parks. Project researchers interviewed refugees and asylum seekers in Sheffield, London and Berlin. They explored how organisations involved with supporting refugees might connect with greenspace organisations to encourage wider use and positive experiences.

The approach

#refugeeswelcome in parks promotes the benefits of initiatives (from walks, to conversation classes, to sport, to conservation volunteering, to picnics, to growing projects) that embed one or all of the following aims:

1/ Increase autonomy.

Refugees and asylum seekers often have very constrained life circumstances, in which the opportunity to make their own decisions and pursue their own goals is very reduced. These initiatives can increase confidence in order to make well informed choices about where to go in a city or town. Newcomers may need better understand the culture and range of different types of greenspace in the UK, and research what information they need before visiting.

2/ Support respite

Many refugees and asylum seekers live with poor mental health, and all are adjusting to ‘finding their feet’ and their own sense of being and belonging in a new cultural context. Respite (as potentially provided by outdoor places and activities) can be about peaceful relaxing, the enjoyment of taking part in familiar activities, or the pleasure of doing something you do well.

3/ Use and build on social networks.

Most initiatives are supported by (and in turn support) social relationships. The human to human element is important: both between organisations and refugees and asylum seekers, and within the friendship networks of new arrivals. The confidence needed to visit parks is easier to find when you are with a friend or a facilitated group.

How about some do-able ideas?

For more information visit the website…

  • Flick through, download and share the resource book: packed full of information, case studies, ideas.
  • Read the case studies of existing initiatives from across Europe, including outdoor language learning in Paris, walking with new students in Plymouth, bicycle training in Manchester.
  • Download or order the conversation club resource “Let’s talk about parks”. A pack of 40 A5 cards with lots of full colour photos and ESOL exercises to explore the diversity of parks and what to prompt discussion of what is available locally.
  • Interested in Berlin, haben Sie Interesse an Berlin?​
  • Or read about the piece about the research in ‘the Conversation’: How spending time in city parks helps asylum seekers to feel at home.


For more information or to ask for hard copies of any of our resources please contact Clare Rishbeth ([email protected]). Also, do let her know of any ideas you have tried where you live… brilliant success stories and not-quite-working-out stories all welcome!