Once upon a Hill: An action research inquiry into community engagements with Robinswood Hill Country Park

What is the value of local parks in lifting the wellbeing of local communities? How do communities relate to their green spaces? This project will explore these questions in the context of Robinswood Hill Country Park, which serves several nearby suburbs in Gloucester.

What did the project involve? 

Image credit: Stephanie Cole.

This research project sought to explore the significance of Robinswood Hill Country Park, a geographical landmark sitting between the M5 and the Gloucester suburbs of Matson, White City, Podsmead and Tuffley. It investigated the questions:

  • How does it resonate in the day-to-day lives of local residents?
  • What is its value and significance?
  • How can it contribute to community wellbeing in the present and future?

The team used research quantifying the positive impacts of living near a green space to inform interventions designed to encourage engagement with green spaces amongst socially marginalised groups. This research project operated with the belief that residents, as local experts, hold unique experiential knowledge of the park. The team hoped to use this knowledge to explore residents’ emotional responses to the park, to understand how it shapes their sense of place, space and belonging, and contributes to wellbeing. They developed learning and understanding that can inform existing community-led interventions with Robinswood Hill Park, such as those supported by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and their partners.

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Alice Willatt (Management) is interested in feminist-informed action research with third sector organisations.
  • Martin Parker (Management) is the lead for the Bristol Inclusive Economy Initiative.
  • Mark Gale (Gloucestershire Gateway Trust) has lived and worked in the communities at the centre of this project for over 30 years.
  • Scott Farlow (Artist) adopts a socially engaged practice, exploring landscapes of identity, connection and belonging by encountering, exploring and sharing responses to familiar and unfamiliar places.

What were the results?

The team ran three critical making community workshops. These will involve exploring, storytelling, visual and poetic arts, and experiential visits. The process culminated in a community meal and ceremony at the top of the hill.

They held an exhibition of artwork produced in the workshops and feature a story in the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust Newsletter.

This project collaborated with participating children to make the booklet “Once Upon A Hill: Adventures on Robinswood Hill”. View the PDF booklet by clicking on the image below.