Birkenhead Park friends fundraising to ‘make a difference’

A community group “looking to make a difference” in Birkenhead Park is raising money to help it secure world heritage status.

The Friends of Birkenhead Park are a group of volunteers working with Wirral Council staff to look after Birkenhead Park which first opened in 1847. The park is sometimes known as the People’s Garden and is the first publicly-funded park in the world.

The park is currently on a tentative shortlist for UNESCO World Heritage status. If it gets this award, the park is expected to get more than 5m visitors a year up from nearly 2m currently.

The Friends group was originally set up in 1974 though volunteers only began helping out Wirral Council in 2006. In March they clocked in more than 400 hours between just 13 people helping to manage the Edward Kemp garden too, a community space providing food and benefits to Birkenhead.

The Friends set up the fundraiser on 25 July and has raised nearly £1,000 at the time of writing in less than 24 hours. It is currently being matched through the Aviva Community Fund and Save Our Wild Isles Fund, supported by Sir David Attenborough, which could see the overall fund boosted by thousands of pounds.

This money could go towards improving biodiversity in the park, planting new wildflower meadows, as well as raising income for new equipment to support the Friends in their efforts both in the park and the community garden.

Birkenhead Park volunteers Stephen Murray, Ian Wood, and Alan Brighouse Credit: Edward Barnes

Graham Arnold, chair of the Friends group, said, “I think it means that some works that haven’t been able to be done because of the council’s budget restraints could be done. There’s only so much the council can do.

“I think it’s quite significant. Say we plant a wildflower area within the park, that can show people that the Friends have paid for it to become reality and shows what the Friends can do for the benefit and enjoyment of the park.

“Something that goes on top and provides more colour in the park. That is something people have told us they would really appreciate.”

He added, “I hope that we get some money and I hope to be really ambitious with what we can then put towards projects.”

Cllr George Davies, who chairs the committee overseeing the park, said the Friends were vital, adding, “People do not understand how much history there is in that park. There are about 50 helpers in the park now and without them I don’t know where we would be. They are vital to the park and they are vital in what we are trying to do in getting the (UNESCO) award.

“I am highly delighted with the park. It’s in beautiful condition and anything that can bring in more cash and more volunteers, I am 100% behind it.”

A link to the fundraiser, what the money would go towards, and the work the Friends of Birkenhead Park do can be found here

Main image: A community event held in the Edward Kemp garden by the Friends of Birkenhead Park. Credit: Sheila Blair-Lea

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Sheila Blair-Lea, Friends of Birkenhead Park volunteer Credit: Edward Barnes
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