Hello and welcome to our first newsletter of 2019! We hope it’s a good one for you and yours. We’ve got lots to share with you but as always space is limited so there is more information on our website for you to check out at www.includeus.org.uk

In January 2016, parents with disabled children started to express their disappointment that there were no inclusive play spaces in Dumfries and wanted to explore the possibility of changes being made at Catherine Street. So when we consulted with the community during 2017 people told us that they wanted better access into the park, new gates that would open and close easily, pathways around the park to avoid having muddy feet, an opening up into The Usual Place Café to get a cuppa, inclusive play equipment which children could enjoy regardless of age or ability; sensory planting and quiet areas for children who need a bit of time out; sociable seating and somewhere to gather. All of those ideas were used to create a Design Brief which our Landscape Architect translated into a design. You can view the final design on our website. We were encouraged when over 200 people gave us overwhelmingly positive feedback about the plans at the Exhibition we held over 4 days in October last year.

That seems to be a recurring question and the answer is a definite no we won’t be banning dogs. We do hope however that owners will be responsible about picking up poo and being respectful of children who may be fearful of dogs.

What’s that you ask??? Now that the Council have granted planning permission, going out to tender is another task for us this month and it is a really important milestone in the development of the park. The tender is quite a technical document which is the cumulation of what changes you told us you would like to see made in the park. It confirms what materials and equipment is to be purchased and what needs to be done. From the beginning, we have been keen to use a local company so that the money spent on the park stays within Dumfries and Galloway.

TIMESCALES It seems to have taken forever to get to this stage! When we first talked about what might be possible in early 2016, we expected then that it would take at least 5 years to fundraise and do what was needed to build an inclusive play park. Everyone we’ve spoken to who has ever been involved in this kind of project told us that it takes longer, and costs more than you think. For anyone who has ever renovated a property, this will be a very familiar story! We are looking at an opening during the summer this year so keep checking our Facebook page and website for updates.

As the design for the park gradually emerged, we could see that there would be space along the back wall to create a run of raised beds. It made us think seriously about the biodiversity and ecology within the park. After speaking to people, who know more than we do about these things, we began to realise how important town centre parks are becoming for our wildlife – but only if we provide what they need. So, we will plant native trees and shrubs which provide winter food in the form of berries and perennial plants and naturalised bulbs which offer food for pollinators. Bug boxes and bird boxes will help children and young people understand about the importance of caring for our natural habitats. Soft fruits, herbs and salad veg will be planted up and cared for by children and young people to help them understand where their food comes from – no supermarket plastic wrapping involved!

WHO WILL CARE FOR THE PARK ONCE IT IS OPENED? Include Us is the local charity which has fundraised to develop the park. We hope to take over ownership of the park from the Council through a long-term lease. This means that we will be responsible for ensuring that the park is a welcoming, safe and beautiful space to enjoy. The park will still be a public space open to everyone. So, over the next few months look out on our Facebook page and website for opportunities to join our friendly little band of volunteers to support us with everything from gardening to emptying bins to keeping play equipment clean.

Go to our website www.includeus.org.uk where you can look at Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/IncludeUsatCatherineSt or send us your query or comments through email or messenger.

We’d love to hear from you

Dumfries & Galloway Council Video Highlights Catherine Street Inclusive Play Park

It was a pleasure to welcome Derek Crichton, Director of Communities from D&G Council to the park site to see progress ….

Catherine Street Park Announcement Regarding Covid 19

Following the Government announcement that we should avoid non-essential contact with others, Include Us has postponed all planned activities and events within Catherine Street Park.

Boo! Spooky Shenanigans At The Park

Following the Government announcement that we should avoid non-essential contact with others, Include Us has postponed all planned activities and events within Catherine Street Park.

Opening Date & AGM

The park has been designed to offer better accessibility with safe pathways, sociable seating and imaginative and inclusive…