British Queen celebrates


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced a further £6 million of fresh investment in improving green spaces across London. 

The £1.2m Grow Back Greener fund, with £500,000 provided by Thames Water, will offer grants to dozens of community-led projects to help more Londoners access green space in their neighbourhoods. It will focus on the most disadvantaged areas, supporting community gardens, food growing projects, pocket parks and cleaner waterways. 

Separately, the new £4m Green and Resilient Spaces Fund will support large-scale green space projects, helping to tackle the climate emergency by reducing the risk of floods and keeping our city cool. This could include restoring rivers, creating new wetlands, opening up new green connections between parks, or creating new woodlands.  

Funding will be targeted where it is most needed, using cutting-edge data, including our new climate risk mapping, that highlights where Londoners are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It will also target areas with the least access to public open space.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of London’s green spaces for Londoners’ health and wellbeing. London’s parks saw the highest increase in usage of anywhere in the country during the first lockdown last spring. Yet it has also brought into sharp focus the inequalities in access to green space across our city. The Mayor believes this is a matter of fairness, and wants all Londoners to live within a 10-minute walk of a green space.   

Today, Sadiq visited the Cookbook Edible Library project - a partnership between Haringey Council, Edible London and Volunteer It Yourself - awarded funding through the first round of the Mayor’s Grow Back Greener Fund in December 2020. The project has transformed an unused piece of land to create a community kitchen and a garden at St Ann’s Library, which is helping local families and young people learn to grow and cook their own food, as well as giving 14-24 year olds the chance to learn new skills whilst participating in outdoor activities, including construction and gardening. By providing these opportunities for young people, the project is also offering positive alternatives to young Londoners who might be at risk of getting drawn into gangs.   

Approximately one in six Haringey pupils are known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (16 per cent), but provisions are not available out of school hours. This project aims to be up and running in time for their planned summer holiday food programme for children and young people who often have little or no access to healthy food.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “As Mayor, I want London to lead the way in tacking the climate emergency and for all Londoners to be have access to great green spaces close to where they live. The new funding I am announcing today during London Climate Action Week is just the start of even more investment in green spaces, nature and projects to help tackle the climate emergency.   

“The community-led projects that benefit from this programme provide so much more than just improved green space for local communities. The Cookbook Edible Library project I am visiting today provides an educational, safe space for young people to develop new skills – providing positive opportunities and alternatives to those who might be vulnerable to getting drawn into gangs.” 

Edible Londonfounder, Sunny Karagozlu, said: “The importance of this project goes beyond merely food and growing. Here, at Edible London, food is the connecting block to a whole new world. Disenfranchised youth can enter a safe space where they can not only read and educate themselves - in terms of using the services already on offer at the library - but where they can now also get access to an educational growing space centred around growing culturally appropriate food. Furthermore, thanks to the state-of-the-art kitchen on site, young people will also be able to see how some of these foods can be used, first-hand, through the provision of educational cooking workshops centred around plants. Put down the knife and pick up the shovel because the seeds we sow today, helps our communities grow tomorrow.” 

Cllr Zena Brabazon, Haringey Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Families said: “This fantastic garden is the result of hard work by dedicated volunteers and community groups, delivering a wonderful local resource. It connects this lovely local library even more to our community. Our libraries are a real haven and I am proud we are seeing further developments. At St Ann’s, the garden provides children and young people with real life experience connecting valuable life skills on good nutrition and food budgeting with reading and study. A great combination of learning and activity, and we will continue to invest in training and skills for all of Haringey’s young residents.”

Sarah Bentley, Thames Water CEO, said: “I’m excited we’re partnering with the Mayor of London on the Grow Back Greener scheme, which closely connects with our own aims to protect the environment and invest in the communities we serve. We kept Walthamstow Wetlands open during lockdowns, which meant over 650,000 Londoners could enjoy the fresh air and see the wildlife the site has to offer. It really mattered to us that we could share such an amazing space during that difficult time. 

“Not everyone has a nature reserve or waterway on their doorstep though, so the creation of more neighbourhood green spaces is something I strongly support and am proud we’re co-funding this inspiring initiative to create a positive legacy for generations to enjoy.”  Photo by Leonard Bentley, Wikimedia commons.