One of the great things Ipswich residents like about their town is the large parks, recreational grounds and green space surrounding the town. Whether it is to play sports, for gentle exercise or to relax, we should encourage more people to get out and walk or cycle to their nearest park. How can we achieve this?
Ipswich Park Meeting Places
We want to create cafes that act as local community meeting places and encourages people to enjoy their local park. Joining the gym isn't for everyone, but a daily walk to their local large park and back, supported by knowing refreshments are available (a "pit stop" if you like) and ability to meet up with friends and family or take part in an event, will allow more people to become active, reduce isolation and improve well-being.
It could be that one or more of these meeting places were welcome centres.
Better Park Facilities
The toilet facilities in many large parks are disgusting or are permanently closed. There isn't enough recycling bins. Not enough cycling provision such as bike racks. Benches can be too few.
Ipswich Borough Council, despite times of austerity, have invested in our parks including through lottery grants. They have prioritised in areas such as childrens' play areas and landscaping.
Doing our bit
In return for establishing community meeting areas, we want to use a cafe in order to generate income that can go back into the park providing a source of income to help pay for improvements and fund upkeep.
Local Community Meeting Places
We want to establish a place for the local community to meet with the beautiful park as a back drop in four Ipswich locations. The cafes will provide refreshments and wifi. It is likely to begin with one cafe and expand once proven. Each cafe will provide local employment and training opportunities.
These meeting places will be on Google Maps and promoted continuously on social media promoting a wide range of events. Opening times might be summer only or all year round.
Examples of possible events that can be held (both at cafe and in park as extension) include:-
- Coffee Mornings
- Outdoor Cinema
- National Holidays
- Combating isolation
- Book Clubs
- Parenting groups
- Business Networking
- Jumble/Bring and Buy/Car Boot Sales (without the car!)
- Death Talks
- Job Club
- Art (Literature, Creative, Performing)
- Fringe - Celebrating the Eve of an event
- Face painting
- Charity collection
- Gifting (recycling by giving away for free)
- Fancy Dress
- Flash mob
- Open Mic
- Street Party
- Talent Show
In particular this creates a wide range of free participation events in school holidays (really, sometimes the best things in life are free...) and a wide range of events and activities for the community.
Missed anything? Feel free to get involved. Suggest additions or state which of the above you like the sound of most.
Christchurch Park and Holywells Park already have decent toilet facilities and cafes.
The below are locations we are most interested in setting up subject to Ipswich Borough Council approval. Please get involved so we can deliver this as a community project. Cafes could be buildings with indoor seating or outdoor kiosk/huts. New buildings are only ever likely to replace existing structures or areas of hard-standing, no new cafes in the middle of a football pitch!
Chantry Park is the largest public park in the borough that will host four Ed Sheeran concerts this year. Toilet facilities are poor but the council has improved play areas in the park. Despite the size, the park feels largely forgotten about.
Chantry Park is largely underused - we can change that! There are no cafes or convenience stores within close range to be affected. The park is easily accessible for people of north Chantry (east and west) and Triangle Estate but public transport widens the scope of this to SW Ipswich (Route 15), West Suffolk (Sudbury, Hadleigh, Hintlesham) (Routes 90 & 91) and Colchester (Route 93). It is close to allotments and housing.
Bourne Park is a large park in South West Ipswich with connection on to Belstead Brook Park. It has superb facilities for children but toilet facilities are poor.
There are no public parks in Bridge Ward - which is pretty much sandwiched between the railway line (diesel freight locomotives) and the Port of Ipswich; residents have an average life expectancy of 5 years less than the Ipswich average - so we very much hope to encourage people to make the trip down to the park. There are no cafes or convenience stores within close range to be affected. Good public transport links for SW Ipswich (Route 15 & 15A) and some county services. It is close to housing.
Gippeswyk Park is the park you see when travelling north of Ipswich by rail and as such is a stone throw from the rail station. Toilet facilities were poor but have since shut to the public. It serves as a cut through for many people, which creates opportunities.
There are no cafes or convenience stores within close range. The nearest refreshments are post-barrier at the rail station. It is close to allotments and housing. It is well served by public transport (Routes 12, 13, 14, & 15A stop nearby) and rail links extend reach especially across Greater Ipswich.
Landseer Park is a large park in South East Ipswich with play area near Clapgate Lane.
Unlike Holywells Park it doesn't have a cafe. It is well served by public transport.
Cafe Refreshments & Wifi
The cafe itself will likely serve coffee, tea, hot chocolate, water and refrigerated soft drinks. Basic hot and cold food, including ice cream in the summer months. FREE Wifi will be available.
Decent toilet facilities
Provide clean toilet facilities that you don't mind using if caught short. These will be limited to park opening times to reduce vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
Permanent presence & CCTV
Sometimes even in the daytime parks can become momentarily secluded. This entices opportunist criminals. By establishing a cafe, it is the next best thing to a police station; first people are aware it is staffed when the cafe is open, so there is always someone looking out and somewhere any crime can be reported (such as raising the alarm) and secondly, it encourages footfall to and from the cafe to be more regular. It isn't the job of the employee but with complimentary refreshments for officers on duty, we are sure in time it wouldn't be rare to see a PCSO or police officer nearby. We will also have CCTV. This will ensure parks become more safer and without criminal activities taking place.
First aid & defibrillators
Employees will receive first aid training and a defibrillator will be installed at every cafe.
Events & mini-events
We will not just be operating a cafe but continuously looking at planning events to encourage people to visit. A rough list of possibilities is as above. Most events will be mini-events but there is opportunity for larger events such as erecting a small stage in the park etc. All events will be promoted on our website, social media and leaflets. These events will be listed on EventBrite and Facebook.
A lot of litter at parks relate to the container of drinks. Typically plastic for bottles and steel or aluminium for cans. These can be recycled but the bins in parks are all general waste. This needs to change.
Of course, we will offer discounts on customers using multi-use drink cups to reduce on single use plastics.
We need to encourage sustainable transport. Walking and cycling are two. So we need bike racks so bicycles can be secured whilst undertaking another activity or taking a break. Security isn't a concern with bike racks being located near the cafe and covered by CCTV.
Furthermore, two of the parks - Bourne Park and Landseer Park have cycle routes going through them.
There is likely to be a small percentage of customers that don't use the provided bins. In which case it is our problem and we will take responsibility to clean up after them.
Seating & Upkeep
The cafe will have its own seating - whether internal or outdoors - but with increasing footfall to parks it is likelymore park benches will be required. We would like to use the money gained through the sale of food and drink to help IBC with the costs of running the parks and to pay for upgraded facilities.
Ipswich Park Cafes is a We Love Ipswich community project.
We are looking to raise £10,000 to fund a new organisation (likely a Community Interest Company) to oversee the establishment of these cafes and to compile a credible proposal and business plan. We will publish full details of expenditure and contributors will receive information of this along with progress.
Some of this money might be paid to experts for professional fees, but no salary or expenses! We are seeking members of our community to get involved – the only paid persons will be the cafe employees – we don’t foresee management salaries or even remuneration for attending meetings.
All proceeds (minus contingency) from the local community meeting places will be reinvested in to the park surrounding the cafe. We feel the meeting place concept solves so many problems. It embraces civic pride allowing people to play a bigger part in their communities. It encourages exercise, ensures people stay hydrated, will tackle mental health, reduce isolation, ensure our parks get the investment they deserve, improves park facilities, enhances cycle routes, will reduce crime and even create a few jobs in the local economy.
You can help us by donating money, getting involved and contacting your local councillor expressing your support for the community project. This inclusive project will benefit every age group of the community. It is a community project, so you can become involved in key decisions.