We all live in a very urban environment here in London and many of our children have never experienced eating an apple straight from a tree. Nor tasted herbs warm from the sun.

Our high street echoes this urbanity, with no green spaces and the nearest park over a mile away.

We decided that we needed to do something about that and so, with the help of some grants (which we are very grateful for), and some volunteer time, we are creating an edible, ecology garden around the Willesden Green High Street Library. The garden is open to the high road and has seats so you can sit and smell and touch the herbs and fruit, rest your weary legs and soothe your mind.

And of course there is the added bonus that planting will improve the environment, clean the pollution (our Library is situated at a very highly polluted spot), cool the air, provide a rain sink, provide forage for local wildlife, and even look good!

kindness apple tree1 Elayne Coakes


Very aware of cost and robustness of materials we are using recycled water tanks and soil created from garden and meal waste by Veolia - our household waste collectors.


Into them we are planting English fruit trees - apples, pears, plums, cherries and medlars, and underneath are herbs and edible plants. Plants like chamomile which you can make into teas to help you sleep, or lavender to keep away moths but which is also anti-inflammatory and antiseptic! And then medlars which are like quinces but have been cultivated in England since Roman times, and you eat the fruit in winter unusually.

Tree Tanks

We are careful to ensure that our trees are watered by placing a water reservoir underneath their roots which can be easily topped up by a tube. And we water well initially to establish the plants. And get sponsors for each tank/s to maintain the planting and plant health.

Getting People Involved

We plan to invite local schools (interest has already been received) to come and visit these gardens for a guided tour and to provide some workshops for both children and adults where they can taste the plants. The first will be November 7th 2018.

 Find out more at Willesden Green Town.

The National Film and Television's, Motion Graphics and Titles students made a set of films to promote their ideas of London as a National Park City.

Are you a student or do you run a course? Might you be able to produce something which tells your own personal story of London as National Park City?

A script was conceived and written by Judy Ling Wong, Steve Pocock and Mark Chaudoir and then developed by the students following the brief: "To showcase and celebrate London as a National Park City that pays equal attention to both outstanding nature and the potential for nature within the built environment – where people live and where people work."

The iconic London pigeon was selected as the narrator of the film, and then the students were left to fly with their own ideas and visions of London! There are nearly 9 million different views of London and everyone can be a leader and make the city greener, healthier and wilder. The students produced four very different views of life in London.

All the students were on the National Film and Television School's Motion Graphics and Titles Course.

My thanks to all the students who took part and put so much of their energy and ideas into the films. The films by Chris King, Isaac Edeh, Gintare Tamasauskaite, and Maria Cerrato were first premiered at the #NationalParkCity Fair and can now be watched below.

If you are a student and interested in creating something for London as a National Park City then let your imagination fly! We'd love to see and hear your ideas. Have fun with the brand, present a different view of London's wildness, green and blue and how anyone can Make A Difference. Share you're ideas with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we'd love to hear them!

Mark Chaudoir, is an award-winning director. He has worked at BBC and Red Bee Media before becoming a freelance director of commercials and content films and also lecturers at National Film and TV school and Brunel University.






The People's Manifesto for Wildlife ...

  • Was conceived to publish a set of informed ideas from a parliament of strong, independent voices. Ideas which, if implemented today, would make a huge difference for wildlife tomorrow.
  • Presents a series of essays by 18 Ministers highlighting some of the most critical concerns affecting the UK landscape and its species, each accompanied by ten commandments – ‘no-brainer’ solutions to the problems.
  • Has been written to be accessible to everyone with an interest in the health of our countryside and a respect for the species that live there. It is not a dull, dry report – please read it yourselves! Don’t just read what someone else says about it.

Read the manifesto for yourself over on Chris Packham's website...

Manifesto Cover coloured front 150

A Successful People's Walk for Wildlife 22 Sep 2018

We joined the People's Walk for Wildlife on 22nd September and enjoyed meeting so many people handing out our giant map of London National Park City and chatting with people about their ideas for London. 

Thousands joined Chris Packham and other famous faces to walk to Downing Street, where Chris and the Ministers for the Young handed in the manifesto calling for an end to the 'war on wildlife'.

The event was inspiring and it was fantastic to see so many different people and groups there. The bird song being played on mobile phones through the streets of London was a memory which will live with us for a long time!

We Can Care but now is the Time to Take Action

It’s time that we converted our national love for nature programmes on TV into taking action to protect endangered wildlife.

A study by the WWF and Zoological Society of London found that the number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years. Here in the UK research has found that one in seven wildlife species are at risk of extinction.

There have been major international assemblies, protests and marches to fight poverty, stop war, tackle climate change and in support women, science and gay pride. For some reason, until now, there has been no major gathering in support of wildlife that calls for action to halt the decline and extinction of species.

Led by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, the People’s Walk for Wildlife was an opportunity for us to come together and demonstrate how much we value nature. 

Just like Pride, the Women’s March and Stop the War, we don’t have to agree on all the solutions to agree that radically more needs to be done and that we should come together to say that.


Why not wear a #NationalParkCity T-shirt to the walk? We have a small selection to order on our T-Shirts page.

walker ladies fitted green

Read more over on this page from Chris Packham's website.


In South London, Transition Town Tooting (TTT) and the refugee charity CARAS have been working together in a community project partnership since 2015. Together, we’ve mixed TTT’s facilitation and local relationships with the CARAS team’s skills and experience. We’ve worked alongside CARAS-organised refugee and asylum-seeking family groups, with the women’s group, with adults and with the Youth Club for unaccompanied teenagers.

  • Activity objectives have included enabling CARAS individuals to enjoy teamworking, have fun, meet new people and build their mental health and sense of wellbeing
  • Activities have included creative projects, carpentry, time outside in nature, creating a city garden, campfire cooking
  • We’ve found that what’s effective in our own facilitation style includes being patient, trusting that individuals will find and do activities that are right for them, working alongside as peers and getting hands-on

We’ve all enjoyed creating planters and furniture that made the CARAS office front yard more attractive to all, sending a message about care of the community and the environment.

In 2017 we built on the teenagers’ experience to make a set of benches for use outdoors elsewhere in the community.

We were excited to be reaching out from the familiar Youth Club setting!

During one long July afternoon, young people created 4 benches from 8 pallets. They problem-solved cutting up the pallets, making joints and what fixings to use. As sections of the benches were completed, others in the Youth Club wrote messages of invitation and welcome on the slats, using any language they wished.

The benches were used to furnish TTT’s ‘Tooting Twirl’ village green community celebration the next day. Later in the year the benches were loaned to Tooting’s Sound Lounge café, used in TTT’s outdoor annual ‘Tooting Foodival’ and included in the ‘Stay With Love’ exhibition of creative work by CARAS users.

Now the benches are enjoyed all year round by visitors to the Tooting Community Garden.

So many people have experienced the benches and so many local groups have been involved celebrating these young people’s creativity.

We’ve been inspired by our participants and that young refugees and asylum-seekers from many countries should feel like creating these benches and the personal messages that invite us – local Londoners – to feel welcome outdoors here in our city.Please get in touch to discuss our or your projects. Contact either of the partners:

"We are our choices" - JP Sartre

Citizen as participant

Let's reject the title of consumer. I reject that name because I don't want to take more than I give. We have passed that tipping point and know we need to change, particularly when it comes to land use. Three generations of industrialised farming has poisoned our country, has annihilated half our biodiversity, leading to a terribly steep decline in all insect life, the consequences of which no one knows, beyond the economic implications of manual pollination.

We can all make a difference to the places we live in. We can shape our own gardens and beyond, with small actions that impact on those around us. We know that when we create a habitat, no matter how small, the wildlife arrives. Make a small pond and see it fill with life.

Plant some flowers and see the butterflies and bees arrives. Make a sign outlining what you have done. People will notice. It's that simple. And it's aesthetic. It adds to our visual landscapes. It adds to our internal worlds. It's reassuring, so aids wellbeing. In all of us.

So, here are some exercises in tipping towards the perception of public social space as something to which we can add something of intrinsic value.

Often we cannot wait for permission to contribute. That's ok because it's debatable who it belongs to.

Green Refuge

Our stall at the National Park City Fair will provide the materials and tools to get you started on these small, important acts. Working together to position the citizen as narrator, we reveal how the city can become a place for unsanctioned environmental interventions and artworks.

  • Make a bird-box and install it
  • Plant some wildflower seeds in an unmanaged area
  • Plant some vegetables in an available space
  • Make a window box
  • Hang a hanging basket
  • Plant a tree
  • Make a sign that outlines your intention/ a picture

"The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanisation."

Touchwood Trees

Green spaces need Friends!

Do you value your local park or green space?

Do you want to see improvements there, and more people using it?

Do you think it should be looked after properly?

If so, why not get together with other users to form a local Friends group?! Or join one for your local space if there is one - there are already hundreds of such groups... every space needs one.

A group could do some or all of these things, eg:

  •  meet up regularly to discuss your views and concerns about the park
  • lobby the Council (or other owner) for better maintenance, and also improvements
  • produce your own leaflets and Newsletters
  • set up website/email list/fb/twitter about your park and the Friends activities
  • draft up a long-term vision for how the park could be if there were new facilities etc
  • organise events such as: bulb and tree planting (get permission!), clear-up days, picnics, health and nature walks and maybe a summer community festival
  • research the history of the space and produce a pamphlet
  • apply for grants for some of the things above

You could start by getting a small group of interested people together, call a public meeting to discuss your local space and what you’d like to achieve together, distribute publicity leaflets (and online info) to local homes and to users of the space with contact details, and kick things off straight away with positive activities you can all do together.

Remember to build up your membership, and involve the views of all the various types of users. Be positive and determined, and stick at your activities through thick and thin – you are an independent group, but be prepared to work with the Council, local schools, conservation groups and other community groups to achieve your aims.

You are not alone! There are currently over 600 local Friends groups around London all making a difference in their own way. This is more and more important as people have to speak out against budget cuts, and call for adequate protection against development or inappropriate uses.

Groups generally link up to support each other in local boroughs and across London as a whole. Together we can work for the resources, standards and management all London's public green spaces deserve!

LFGN - London Friends of Greenspaces Network 


What can be achieved

In Haringey, North London, the community and Council have worked hard together to achieve the renaissance of Tottenham's formerly run-down district park, boosted by lottery funding. Lordship Rec is a testament to what can be achieved. The Friends of Lordship Rec are part of a growing movement of over 6,000 such local groups taking action and speaking up for the UK's vital green spaces.


We would love to see your own articles on how people can make a difference around London. 

We are looking for articles that inspire and support people to do something specific and typically easy to pick up and just get on with. We're looking for tips, knowledge and sign-posting in your own voice - on something you have some authority on.

It needs to be in your own voice and between 250 and 450 words.

We have provided a form which gives more details and that you can use to submit.

Submit an Article for inclusion in Make a Difference

(The form may ask you to log into a Google account. This is merely to allow you to upload images, and no information is shared with us. If you experience any difficulties with this aspect, please simply email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your article details)


There are many ways to make a difference in your local area.

One great way is to conduct your own research project, and share your findings with your community and the policy-makers who make the decisions that affect your area.

Often, policy-makers lack the community-level information they need to make informed decisions about urban planning and service provision. Many want to gain insights from the communities their policies are affecting. This kind of community-led and community-focused information would help them to understand what helps some people to thrive, while others struggle to get by.

The Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) at UCL has been working with citizen scientists in East London, to find out what prosperity means to local communities, and to measure levels of prosperity. Citizen scientists are trained in research skills and conduct interviews with policy-makers, community leaders and residents in the research sites. They use their own knowledge of the local area to inform the research project, and decide how we conduct research and who we speak to with the rest of the team. You can find out more about the work we’ve been doing by visiting the IGP’s website, and our dedicated website for our East London work.

You can find out about opportunities to work as a citizen scientist in East London by signing up to the IGP’s mailing list:

We also work with London councils, many of which have paid opportunities for citizen scientists (called community researchers) in their teams. Keep an eye open for opportunities in your local area.

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