Islington Ecology Centre is a vital resource for future generations
As your readers will know, the council met to give its formal approval to swingeing budget cuts, including a cut of three-quarters of a million pounds to its sustainability budget.
That will have an effect on Islington Ecology Centre and Gillespie Park, which is Islington’s second-largest green space.
Islington Ecology Centre has always been a shining example of what can be achieved when the local community and the council work together.
The centre celebrates its silver jubilee this year with the 25th Gillespie Park Festival.
The Friends of Gillespie Park are working to keep the park and the centre in council ownership and to protect the park and its services for future generations.
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We are very clear that we will not help the council to cut Gillespie Park, or to cut services to the park or the Ecology Centre. We are pleased to say that pressure from the Friends and from other concerned residents has already meant that an additional two posts at the centre have been saved.
We know that it is important to the new council executive to pursue the “fairness agenda”. In practical terms, that means providing for less privileged people in the borough and protecting the poorest and most vulnerable from the effect of cuts.
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We applaud that aim – and we believe that protecting Gillespie Park and Festival, and the Islington Ecology Centre, is vital to achieving it.
The Park currently provides a safe and welcoming green space for residents living in overcrowded accommodation, and those living in flats without access to outdoor space. That has knock-on benefits for residents’ health, including their mental health, and for tackling childhood obesity.
The Ecology Centre provides education for children in local primary schools who might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore and learn about nature.
The Centre also runs events for learning-disabled adults, who currently have the opportunity to run an organic cafe there on Sundays, learning important life skills and improving their job prospects.
The centre runs outreach events in local schools, such as birdwatching, again providing opportunities to local youngsters that they would not otherwise have access to.
The centre staff supervise and work with groups of local volunteers who help to maintain and improve the Park. This provides valuable opportunities for elderly and retired people and those who are unemployed – and, of course, saves money!
We look forward to working with the council to safeguard this precious resource for all the borough’s residents and for future generations. – Sue Jandy, secretary, Friends of Gillespie Park.