Beltane Fellow: 1 April-30 September 2013
Dr Jenny Roe is Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University and an expert in ‘green health’ – the benefits of natural settings to health. Jenny has experience of conducting participatory research with disadvantaged groups (for example, children with behavioural issues and individuals with mental health problems), including the use of participatory film and photography methods.
Jenny’s Beltane Fellowship was awarded under a call for projects which addressed the theme of “Inclusive, Innovative and Secure Societies”. During her Fellowship, Jenny will work with the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (‘the Botanics’) to explore ways in which botanical gardens can be made accessible to a more socially diverse range of users. OPENspace, which is based at the University of Edinburgh, will also be involved with the project.
At present, botanical gardens tend to be used mostly by middle-class, white people, which is not always representative of the population living near the gardens. As a result, more deprived communities can miss out on the health and wellbeing benefits of botanical gardens even though they live close to them. Jenny’s Beltane-supported project will explore how the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh can be made more accessible to nearby communities such as Pilton or Leith.
A key part of Jenny’s Fellowship will be the initiation of a process to design a new nature play space at the Botanics. The new space will be developed through an incremetal Slow Design process that requires the participation of local communities. This development process will allow the communities involved to have ownership of what is created. Project participants will record their experiences of nature play using film and photography, with the experiences of different participants then being brought together in a digital story workshop.
Jenny’s project builds on the Scottish Government’s Good Places, Better Health framework and on the strong evidence base of the value of natural settings to health and well-being in children and adults. The Scottish Government’s proposed Children and Young People Bill intends to make the provision of safe and stimulating play areas in Scottish towns and cities compulsory.