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Our parks offers free outdoor sessions to promote community health and well-being, utilising local parks and open spaces across communities.

Why was Our Parks created?

Our Parks was founded by Born Barikor in 2014 and was created to give everyone access to FREE or affordable, high quality group exercise, no matter where you live or your income.

Born, a former athlete from a council estate in Tower Hamlets, who after finding himself with no money to join a gym but wanting to keep fit, came up with the idea of creating an accessible pathway to exercise for people from lower incomes by working with councils and development agencies to offer the public free outdoor exercise classes.

How did you understand what people wanted? 

Our Parks gained an understanding of what people wanted by engaging with local communities to find out what the barriers were to exercise and physical activity.

We found that most people in marginalised communities who need to maintain a good level of physical activity were either priced out of the available exercise provision, or the offerings did not appeal to them.

Based on this and many other findings, Our Parks created fun and inclusive sessions tailored to the various communities we work with, and we continue to listen to and learn from the communities that we serve to ensure we keep participants engaged in physical activity to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

Group stretching in park

How did you promote your activities?

Social media has been a popular tool to help promote and showcase the classes and spread the word amongst our key user groups. We also work with local groups and borough councils to spread the word of Our Parks.

However, our biggest driver has always been word of mouth as participants enjoy the sessions and the go on to tell their friends, family, colleagues, and others in their local community to join the classes.

Our Parks' Impact

Our Parks started in 2014 with a few Parkers (participants) taking part in a group exercise class in a park in Waltham Forest.

Our Parks now services 200,000+ Parkers across London and the UK through outdoor park fitness sessions, digital on-demand exercise programmes, and livestreamed sessions online, all of which are free to and to encourage everyone to take part without the barrier of having to pay for high quality, fun, and inclusive exercise sessions.

We are proudly supported by Sport England, London Marathon Charitable Trust, NHS, OHID, and Lucozade Sport, and have had the opportunity to partner with many amazing local organisations and councils across the UK to encourage participation in physical activity.

We have received feedback from participants of Our Parks sessions on how the free exercise classes have created strong social cohesion in local communities – people now know their neighbours and others in their local community who they would have never spoken to before, and others have gone on to become good friends.

Women pad boxing in the park

What challenges have you faced when launching this initiative?

One of the main barriers our Founder faced at the beginning was to prove that the idea of free exercise in parks would be a success. Waltham Forest Council was the first to back the idea which proved to be hugely successful in the borough, which then led the way to developing the programme across London and wider across the UK.

What are your plans moving forwards? 

Our Parks plans to make free outdoor exercise programmes available to everyone across the UK, especially women and girls, and to make physical activity fun and enjoyable for everyone no matter your age or background.

Top tip for other organisations

To build organisations on values that genuinely aim to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of users.

Action area Our Parks embodies

Our Parks identifies as being safe, social, and suitable as a physical activity programme provider as these 3 action areas resonate closely with how we create and deliver our programmes.

We ensure our sessions are safe, social, and suitable for all that take part as demonstrated in the experiences that our Parkers (users) have had, whether this be physical session in a park or a live-streamed session online.

The Our Parks programme dovetails on all 4 of the TCG key points but keeping it Social and Safe are our key actions to building routine and communities that thrive together.

Find out more

Our Parks