Research by the Queen Elizabeth Olymic Park has found a deep seam of love for green spaces which visitors say will linger in their hearts way past the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study's headlines:

  • Lockdown has had a bigger impact on mental than physical health but parks are a lifeline
  • Physical and mental health boosted by parks say 70 per cent
  • 60 per cent have used parks at least twice a week since the first lockdown
  • 7 in 10 younger people will continue to visit parks more than before Covid
  • Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park valued by local community

The popularity of local parks soared during lockdown with more than 70 per cent of users saying open spaces had a positive impact on their physical and mental health.

As Covid continues to ravage our communities, six out of ten people say they will continue to visit their local parks more than they did before Covid-19 hit. Younger people are discovering the benefits of park life with 72 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds surveyed saying they will visit more than they did before the pandemic.

Ladybird love at the QEII Olympic PArk (c) Tim Webb

Parks have been an invaluable lifeline for many people struggling during lockdown with government statistics showing 1 in 8 UK households lacking a garden. 37 per cent of respondents said lockdown has had a negative impact on their physical health and 47 per cent say it has affected their mental health. However, the data shows that parks have had a positive impact on improving physical health for 70 per cent and mental health for 73 per cent. Only 23 per cent of those surveyed felt the risk of infection was a drawback to visiting a park.

The results come from a survey of 1,000 people living in London and the south east released on World Urban Parks’ “Go Green for Parks” Day (30 June 2020) in recognition of the vital work park staff have made during the pandemic. The Park will show its support with a message of support on London Stadium’s giant outdoor screen.

The survey showed that during lockdown 60 per cent have been visiting their local park at least twice a week with only 11 per cent visiting less than once every two weeks.

It is the connection parks are forming with their local communities which makes parks one of the positives to come out of the pandemic crisis. When asked about Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park specifically 73 per cent said it was at the heart of the community and an important asset for London during lockdown.

Mark Camley, Executive Director of Parkland and Operations for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, said that he was proud that the 560-acre park has played such an important part during the crisis.

“People had taken parks for granted and perhaps forgotten what incredible spaces they are. We welcome millions of visitors each year but there are still local people who don’t think these gardens, wetlands and pastures are for them. Many have discovered parks like ours during lockdown and will continue to use them in the future.

“The results show that young people especially have discovered how important they are to their physical and mental well-being. We know that parks can save health services millions of pounds because they can prevent problems and it is essential we build on this and keep that connection with our communities going.

“The biggest negative for people using parks during lockdown has been a lack of toilet facilities. We have kept toilets open throughout with a strict cleaning routine and this has been really appreciated by those visiting the Park. The vast majority of people have treated our parks with respect because they value the spaces and the care that goes in to maintaining them."

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Hackney; Newham; Tower Hamlets; Waltham Forest

Stratford,E20 | Always open

  • A beautiful new green space with a large amount of wondeful gardens and natural areas. Queen Elizabeth Olympic park has a number of bat boxes and is currently a site of active bat research. Work and play are both catered for at our park and it provides a place to relax or to go for a scenic stroll through the sites of the 2012 Olympics.

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Mapped spaces are based on data published by Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC (GiGL), 2020. Contains public sector information licenced under the Open Government Licence v3.0. See About. | GiGL park and open space content and associated images are ©2020 GiGL CIC, all rights reserved.   |  All other park and open space information is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License   |  CPRE London, 70 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EJ | Charity number 802622