Community is a topic that has received a lot of air time since the COVID-19 crisis first began. As the country went into lockdown many opportunities for interaction and connection were lost and it became starkly obvious how important this is to human development and happiness levels. Physical community spaces and outdoor sport surfaces were some of the first to suffer as the government’s initial response to the pandemic was put in place but have since gone on to be incredibly important to the people around them. Regardless of what happens in 2021 and beyond with respect to COVID-19, community spaces are going to remain incredibly important in the modern world.
Why are community spaces so important?
- Centres for support and relief work. During the pandemic many community spaces became a focal point for hosting emergency relief work for people within the local area. This could be anything, from a place to position a food bank to supporting relief from homelessness.
- An opportunity to “level up” communities. Community spaces have always been important for helping people to get the services and opportunities that they need and were identified in a recent report as a potential mechanism for helping struggling communities to “level up.”
- Enabling social engagement and connection. Where people come together in community spaces and outdoor sport surfaces there is the opportunity to create a sense of connection with others who live in the area and also to feel greater belonging to the community. Loneliness and disconnection have been a big issue during the COVID-19 crisis but were already burgeoning problems even before the pandemic began. Positive community spaces offer the opportunity to combat this and create stronger local ties, as well a sport and exercise being key in reducing mental health issues. People who use these spaces come from all walks of life and different backgrounds so there are many chances to broaden perspectives as well as engage with new and different people.
- Supporting greater recovery. Community spaces can be set up to support recovery and this will be particularly useful in the wake of COVID-19. That could be physical recovery and rehabilitation – for example by creating a garden that local residents can work on – or a location where support services relating to careers and finances can be accessed.
- A sense of ownership and care. Giving local residents the use of a space that they care about creates a sense of ownership which increases local belonging. This could come from building or creating something together as a community or as a result of the space being made a focal point for a common cause, such as the environment.
- When schools were closed children had nowhere they could develop social skills through sport that they would normally do in breaktimes or PE. Outdoor sport surfaces provided a safe environment for children to use in many communities to continue the fun that their childhoods should be filled with.
- Positive mental health benefits. Community spaces, depending on their design, potentially have a lot to contribute to positive mental health. That could be because they enable a connection with nature and get people outside of their homes and into the fresh air. It might be as a result of the social connections that take place or the opportunities that can be created for individual growth and progress.
Community spaces have a key role to play in the modern world, not just with respect to COVID-19 recovery, but much more broadly in terms of the human experience as a whole. Find out more about our outdoor sport surfaces.