Finsbury Park: a remote Safe Space

In Spring 2020 I joined 2NQ as a project manager to design and deliver a series of Safe Space workshops for people in the park, to engage with the park’s rich social and environmental heritage (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund).

Brought on at the outset of COVID19 we needed to adapt the delivery of the programme to fit the new situation: through a combination of post and online – to ensure it could reach across the digital divide.

The focus for the project was older people with dementia, where a need and want was ascertained.

We designed and sent out 30 workbooks containing 6 weeks worth of creative, mindful activities plus lots of facts and curiosities. Along with the workbooks people received all the materials needed to complete activities: paints, colouring pencils, a disposable camera, a seed to pot (and nurture), postcards, envelopes, stamps, biscuits, tea bags and more.

A group of 16 – which included people in care homes, carers, those without the internet joining via landline – then met for 6 weeks to explore the packs together, share and connect.

For the sessions we were joined by local guests who shared their particular lens on the park.

Sessions included a watercolour session with Artist and 2NQ Curator Simon Poulter, a virtual tree walk around the park with street tree expert and local resident Paul Wood, a presentation into the park’s rich history with the head of Haringey archives Julie Melrose, an interactive session on taking photos in parks by Kimi Gill of Islington Faces and more!

The sessions were interactive and over the 6 weeks we potted seeds, shared our memories of the park with one another, made postcards inspired by it’s history (that we later sent to each other), wrote letters, mindfully coloured in images of chrysanthemums (in tribute to the former chrysanthemums house), painted images of famous local Elm trees, took photos, and more.

And then in between sessions we set challenges to research, to notice, to explore – unearthing even more interests along the way, as shared by the group.

The last session, inspired by the fact that Finsbury Park used to contain a speakers corner, saw us all get on our virtual soap box and share with the group rest of the group a passion and interest relating to green space. This included poetry recitals, musical performances, talks on mindfulness, community gardening, nearby woodlands and more!

We had a great time developing and running the project and made some real friends along the way.

The evaluation showed the project to be an overwhelming success and we hope to run future iterations of the project soon. Get in touch to find out more.

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