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Britain’s Active Parks

A one-day conference focusing on how our parks can play an increasing role in getting people active and changing lives


24th October 2019, Midlands Arts Cenre, Birmingham

Strategies, policies, experiences, real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared

Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director Sports Marketing Network

Chair and It’s all about change in community sport and physical activity

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Svend Elkjaer is founder and director of the Sports Marketing Network, a leading consultancy and information provider with community sport and physical activity. Being described as ‘a positive disruptor’ Svend has worked across the UK and Denmark with all types of providers and funders helping them to become vibrant, visible and viable

Dr Justin Varney MBBS MSc FFPH, Director of Public Health for Birmingham City Council

The challenge of moving at scale while keeping it local

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Dr Varney, Director of Public Health for Birmingham City Council will reflect on the challenge of moving at scale while keeping it local in England’s second city.Dr Varney is Director of Public Health for Birmingham City Council, responsible for protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of the citizens of Birmingham..

Born Borikor, CEO, Our Parks

Creating an accessible pathway for people on lower incomes to offer them free outdoor exercise classes 

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Born Barikor found himself with no money to join a gym but wanting to keep fit and he came up with the idea of Our Parks. He took degree in Pharmaceutical Science and after a career in sports development and personal training, Born left his job to realise his vision. 

Karen Creavin, Chief Executive; The Active Wellbeing Society

Working collaboratively with our communities to test out the ways to bring our parks into use as venues for physical activity 

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With a Masters in Public Sector Management in 2005 Karen Creavin started working for Birmingham City Council while there, in conjunction with a colleague she set up the ‘be active’ programme which has won national and international awards.Karen set up and became Head of Wellbeing services at BCC, overseeing nationally acclaimed projects within the service. Karen is now Chief Executive of The Active Wellbeing society, a community benefit society that will deliver the wellbeing services on behalf of the Council..

Paul Harper, Sports Development Officer, Glendale Lewisham

It’s all about the local community and award-winning green space management

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Paul Harper has worked for Glendale for more than 15-years, where he is responsible for all things sports-related across Lewisham’s parks as part of the firm’s contract with Lewisham Borough Council. 

Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves, Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University

Designing our cities to be playful: beyond parks

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Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves leads research at the intersection of design, health, wellbeing and technology at ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University.His research is driven by life’s mission to discover and share knowledge that inspires people to act on themselves and to enjoy healthier lives.

Gareth Dix – Director Strategic Relationships, Active Devon in partnership with Sport England

Connecting Actively to Nature – Devon

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Gareth Dix is Strategic Relationships Director for Active Devon and is one of 8 newly appointed Extended Workforce Directors working with Sport England and Active Partnerships. He has worked in public health, coast and countryside and leisure provision within NHS and local authorities. Gareth’s current focus is supporting system change towards a healthier Active Devon through building strong relationships… 

Richard Preston, Partnerships and External Relationships Manager, The Canal & River Trust

Waterways have the power to make a difference to people’s lives 

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Richard Preston is the Trust’s Partnerships and External Relationships Manager in the West Midlands Region. With over two twenty years experience of managing countryside sites and outdoor space, public rights of way and inland waterways, he is a keen champion for the natural environment and peoples access to it. Richard is currently chair of the Local Nature Partnership for Birmingham and the Black Country.

Angela Lewis, Head of Programmes, Fields in Trust

Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces

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Angela Lewis is Fields in Trust’s Head of Programmes and also has a Development Manager role covering the West Midlands and Gloucestershire. She joined Fields in Trust in 2011 with a focus on the QEII Fields Challenge and now leads the organisation’s work on the Centenary Fields programme in partnership with The Royal British Legion, and the London Marathon Charitable Trust’s Active Spaces programme. She is also leading the charity’s corporate partnership work. Angela has always worked in sport and leisure for a variety of organisations at national, regional and local level including Sport England and the London Borough of Richmond.  

Ian Mackenzie, Green Health Programme Manager, greenspace scotland / NHS Lothian

Parks – our natural health service 

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This presentation will describe the process of developing the Strategy and look at how it is being implemented to fully realise the potential of the NHS outdoor estate, parks and greenspaces as community health assets.greenspace scotland is Scotland’s parks and greenspace charity working towards the goal that everyone in Scotland can access and enjoy quality greenspace which meets their needs and improves quality of life.

Ian has recently joined greenspace scotland and NHS Lothian to lead the delivery of the Greenspace and Health Strategic Framework for Edinburgh and the Lothians. Prior to joining greenspaces scotland he managed the Living Landscapes programme with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, including the Wild Ways Well programme in Cumbernauld. His work has focused on urban landscapes and helping unlock the benefits of greenspaces for communities.