Pointing The Way

As the Friends of Wanstead Parklands prepares its funding strategy for 2022, John Sharpe looks at how money has been spent this year and explains why partnerships with third parties are increasingly important. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

Wanstead Park users will have been drawn to the elegant new fingerpost signs dotted strategically around the entrances and grounds. These are the culmination of a £4.1k project, with the funding obtained by the Friends of Wanstead Parklands (FWP) and installed by Epping Forest.

The FWP stall at the Wanstead Festival highlighted the other recent voluntary and financial contributions made by the Friends: £10k funding for work on the Grotto; £900 towards new entrance noticeboards; and the organisation of 40 marvellous volunteers to oversee the stewardship of the much-loved longhorn cattle over the summer.

In my June article for the Wanstead Village Directory, I referred to the evolving funding model for the Park, and the developing need for the Friends to collaborate more closely in fundraising with Epping Forest, whose responsibility it is to manage the Park.

It is not universally recognised that Epping Forest is itself a registered charity. During 2020/21, its income streams have decreased due to the impact of Covid, and as a consequence, new ways of raising cash have had to be identified.

One of these is the pay and display parking policy introduced to parts of the Forest earlier in the year, and to the Park’s Warren Road car park anytime soon. This step change in strategy has infuriated regular Forest users, but it is a done deal and although opposed, was steamrollered through by the Epping Forest Commons Committee.

Organisations such as the Friends face a difficult choice in positioning their relationship with the City: opposition or pragmatism?

For now, outside of the core Park maintenance, which Epping Forest provides, projects are increasingly subject to funding applications and work partnerships with third parties. Since the Friends successful joint initiative with the Heritage of London Trust, both the FWP and Epping Forest have turned to funding bids from disparate sources. Earlier this year, Epping Forest made a significant £600k bid to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund for monies to carry out wetlands restoration, pumphouse replacement and land drainage. The bid was ultimately unsuccessful but indicated the direction of travel.

More recently, a project initiated by the Roding, Beam and Ingrebourne Catchment Partnership, working with the City of London, has been funded by Essex and Suffolk Water: The Thames 21 Project. Its objective is to provide water environment improvements for the benefit of wildlife and biodiversity along the River Roding at Wanstead Park. The work is targeted to be carried out between now and January.

The planned natural play area in the Park to which the Friends have committed £2k will be subject to a funding bid to the City of London Central Grant Programme for essential cash.

Other funds also exist to support green initiatives. So, at the next Friends committee meeting, we will be focusing on developing a funding strategy for 2022.

Membership income and successful fund applications will be increasingly important to the FWP as we seek to improve the Park for all.

This is now what we need to do!

For more information and to become a member of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands (individual: £10 per year; household: £15 per year; lifetime: £90), visit wnstd.com/joinfwp