The group was formed in 2006 after a publicity campaign in the local Telegraph and Argus newspaper requesting people interested in determining the future of Bowling Park. Since then the group has grown into an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers who give up their time to run activities, ￼perform litter picking and maintenance tasks, raise money for park facilities and user groups and work closely with Bradford Council.
The group took over the former tennis court pavilion in 2007 and has used it as a park base ever since. It is from ‘The Hut’ that the friends serve refreshments most weekends from spring to autumn selling refreshments to the park visitors. FOBP have worked closely with many local organisations including schools, faith groups, voluntary organisations, neighbourhood policing teams and local councillors to undertake a number of beneficial works in the park. These have included to date; the installation of the children’s playground and fitness equipment, the refurbishment of the old pavilion including new composting toilets, several large annual community events, the purchase of a bike for the local PCSO, daily youth activities, many organised group activities and regularly organised litter picks and maintenance days. In 2013, the FOBP were able to secure over £25k of funding to enable greater development of the group and more facilities/events/activities to take place in the park.
￼In 2014, the group became a charity and appointed trustees to oversee the work of the group and the wider involvement in the park. It is an exciting time moving forward for the charity, gaining more volunteers and people interested in maintaining and improving the park environment, preserving its heritage and planning its future development.
FOBP are a small non-for-profit charity who are dedicated to encouraging communities from the local area to take an interest in and become involved in using and improving the services in Bowling Park and promoting its use for:
- Educating and connecting the community with Bowling Park to improve the urban environment in which they live,
- Improving the health and wellbeing of local residents by increasing the use of the park for physically active pursuits,
- Developing stronger communities and reducing social isolation experienced by all ages,
- Breaking down barriers between community groups,
- Promoting inclusivity and a pride in the park as a crucial local resource and the importance of the role it plays in everyday life.
Currently the charity is fully manned by volunteers who give their time and efforts in many ways to ensure that Bowling Park can be enjoyed by as many people as possible from within the local community and beyond. The group meets regularly to assess the needs of the park and its users, plan a number of community events each year and provide a public forum for anyone to air their views on park life. The group has a governing body of trustees who ensure that all the operations of the organisation meet the objectives of the Charity Commission and are providing the best service possible in representing the users of the park.
- FOBP provides an important link between the local council owners and the park’s users and ensures that the views of the ordinary person are heard at the highest levels resulting in more capital investment in the park wherever possible;
- FOBP organises a number of event days each year bringing together a number of other local organisations to promote the volunteer sector in the community, increase cohesion between different community groups and promote the activities available in the park;
- FOBP undertakes a number of essential services in the park which are no longer carried out by the council such as regular litter picking, gardening and small maintenance tasks;
- FOBP administers a number of weekly activities such as a gardening club, walking club, daily youth drop in services, sports equipment hire (tennis and golf) and the selling of light refreshments in the park;
- FOBP also has a fundraising remit to ensure that finance is available to continue the valuable work of the group and that the best interests of the park users are served through provision of new and innovative services and the preservation and development of the park’s heritage.