Parks in central London are proving a balm for the soul and boosting people’s mental health like never before during the pandemic.
This autumn during the second lockdown, people are enjoying the beauty of the changing colours of the leaves in the eight parks cared for by the Royal Parks.
They include Pat Hicks Harris and her husband Nigel who spend as much time as they can at the 142-hectare Hyde Park.
The couple live close to St Mary’s Hospital where Nigel works and was redeployed from cardiac rehabilitation during the first lockdown as a ‘ward helper’.
Mrs Hicks Harris said: “We found that the parks have been an absolute lifeline to us during lockdown. We come here anyway but it has been especially important to us during what has been a difficult time. Nigel was working on the ward with Covid patients and I was at home shielding because I’m 80. These beautiful parks helped us carry on. It somehow made the day easier to confront.
“It’s beautiful here. There’s always something new to see. We love the parks anyway but we really started to engage in nature and look how everything changes.
“We’ve always walked in the parks especially living in the centre of London, it’s our garden that we can escape to from the hustle and bustle of city life.”
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And as the leaves change from green to red and brown before falling to the ground the couple are relishing witnessing the seasons change.
Mrs Hicks Harris said:
“We come all year round and follow the seasons, noticing the life beginning in spring – and now we’re going into the winter, with the short days and dark days, it’s even more important to get outside.
“And you know that spring will come and you will see it all again.”
She added: “It’s been really great seeing the seasons and we just really enjoy it. It takes you away from the everyday cares of now.”
Jason Taylor, Hyde Park’s manager, The Royal Parks said: “The parks and local green spaces were a lifeline for many Londoners during the first lockdown.”
He added that the parks team are enjoying seeing people use the parks safely now.
“The parks continue to be amazing spaces throughout winter and they are here for everyone who needs them to boost their well-being – a walk in the park can do wonders to improve your mood.
“They can get busy, even in the cold weather so consider coming at quieter times such as early in the morning and during the week to get the parks to yourselves.”
The Royal Parks have come up with a range of activities to keep people amused including music and history recordings to run to, a scavenger hunt app and tree soundscapes performed by students from the Royal Academy of Music, close to Hyde Park.
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