Separate, Together: Green spaces brightening the darkest parts of lockdown

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Image credit: Pimlico Badger.

Turn right, walk 50 metres and I’m there.

A beautiful little green haven in the middle of Salford. It’s called Lightoaks Park. I’ve lived in this house for four years and I have often gone for a stroll around the park. At most, I’d go down once a fortnight. Now, I go daily, sometimes twice.

Lockdown has been hard for lots of people, and everybody has had their own struggles. Mental health for me is something I have to monitor and manage on a daily basis. Just to keep myself in check. So being forced to spend my whole time at home and only seeing other people through a screen was going to prove a real struggle for me. That’s how I found myself, at 12.30pm on the dot, flipping my laptop lid shut and leaving the house to go for a walk around Lightoaks Park.

Park regulars

It’s amazing the regular people you would see and begin to know despite never speaking to them and remaining two metres apart. There is the lady who walks her white Yorkshire terrier who always gives me a smile as I walk past. There’s the man with the big slobbering Labrador who always runs up to me to say hello. His name is Kevin. The dog’s I mean. I only know this because his name gets shouted every time by the man as I walk past. No idea what his name is. There’s the stream of five to six regular families I always see by the side of the lake who are stood with their faces as close as they can be by the fence to catch a view of the baby ducklings as they have their daily swim around the lake.

Through the lockdown these regulars became people I saw more than work colleagues or members of my own family. If either my wife or I had a stressful day at work (usually her as she is a children’s social worker), we would finish on the dot of 4.30pm and head out to the park, do our stroll, then sit on a bench and just experience the people using the park as the sun begins to drift toward the horizon. Oh, and say hello to as many dogs as possible.

Separate, together

This little park has been a real blessing for me during this lockdown. A daily reminder that it isn’t just my microcosm of the world that is dealing with this pandemic. We all are. Together. Well, separate but together. Come rain or shine it’s a fantastic break in the day which has genuinely got me through the darkest parts of this year.

Now, if only I can get the local community group, Friends of Lightoaks Park, to arrange for the park to move directly next door to Salford CVS' office…

Salford CVS
Author: 
Matt Bell, Volunteering Development Worker

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