National free parks activity programme to launch in Birmingham

By on 26/05/2014 in News

A ground-breaking physical activity programme in Birmingham is set for a major expansion thanks to an exciting national initiative from Coca-Cola Great Britain.

Birmingham’s highly acclaimed Active Parks scheme will now be expanded to deliver more activities as part of Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives, a programme of fun and free activities in parks. The programme is part of Coca-Cola Great Britain's commitment to invest £20m between now and 2020 in programmes to encourage and support people to be more physically active.

Active Parks launched as a five-site pilot scheme 12 months ago, the new-look initiative will now cover over 50 parks.

Today’s announcement comes as new research shows that more than a third (35 per cent) of Birmingham people are spending less than an hour a week being active in the great outdoors¹.

With 48.89 per cent* of the West Midlands region being green and open spaces, Birmingham's local parks provide a natural place for residents to increase their activity levels, enabling them to move outside and enjoy the outdoors.

But research from Coca-Cola Great Britain, found that:

  • While 61 per cent of Birmingham residents would like to spend more time being active outdoors, rather than staying at home (39 per cent) it is the perceived cost associated with being active (29 per cent) as well as a lack of time (26 per cent) that are the most significant deterrents to getting active outdoors.
  • Almost a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) only visit their local park during the summer season, and just 12 per cent visiting their local park at the weekend
  • More than half of Birmingham residents (56 per cent) cited that they if there were more organised activities on offer and if facilities and equipment was provided then they would be more likely to visit their park more often.

Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives will look to appeal to a broad cross-section of Birmingham communities, particularly families and young people, offering something for almost everyone. A diverse range of fun, informal activities will be timetabled all summer aimed at encouraging people to enjoy being active in a sociable, inclusive atmosphere and will include sessions such as Zumba, Tai Chi, rounders, hula-hooping and table tennis, along with guided walks and buggyfit. All Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives sessions will be free and led by a trained session leader supported by local Friends of Parks volunteers.

An ongoing commitment to the community

In its first year, Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives will run in parks in Birmingham, Newcastle and London, with plans for more cities to join the programme in 2015 and beyond.

  • In Birmingham over 50 local parks and open spaces will take part in the Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives programme across the city including Cotteridge Park, Handsworth Park and West Heath Park.
  • On Friday 30 May hundreds of residents will experience the fun first hand at a launch event at Ward End Park from 11am-4pm. This park is just one of the many participating parks in Birmingham hosting summer-long activities which are designed to encourage and inspire communities to enjoy being active together and to have fun. The timetabled programme of sessions in each park will run in 2014 from June to September, but in subsequent years will run from April-September.

Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said, “Thousands of Birmingham people visit leisure centres free every week thanks to our award-winning Be Active scheme, which has been running for the last few years.

“But for some people the very thought of visiting a gym or leisure centre is a frightening concept. So last year we identified a new secret weapon in the battle against obesity and inactivity – the city's parks and open spaces - and ran a pilot Active Parks scheme in six parks.

“This new exciting partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain not only builds on the successful Active Parks initiative, taking activity into more than 50 parks, but it will take the initiative into another league. We have a shared ambition of reducing inactivity in Birmingham and this programme really does offer something for everyone, from canoeing on Edgbaston Reservoir and Tai Chi in Handsworth to Buggyfit and rounders in Walkers Heath Park and Zumba at Witton Lakes.

“Active Parks has shown that the city’s parks and open spaces can play a key role in bringing communities together for physical activities and I’m sure Coca-Cola Zero Parklives will mean many more people across Birmingham can now enjoy a wide range of free, fun activities in safe and open environments across the city. I'm confident it will prove to be a big hit.”

Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain said, “It's widely acknowledged that leading an active lifestyle is one of the most important things we can all do to increase our overall health and happiness - after all, the more you move, the happier you feel.

“We're excited to be working alongside Birmingham City Council to bring Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives to local residents. We know that cost is a barrier to participation so we hope that the free programme of activities all summer long will inspire local people to get out with friends and family and enjoy their local parks, try out something new and have fun.”

Professor Greg Whyte OBE, chair of the Expert Evaluation Committee said, “As a nation I believe we need to get more physically active. Research shows us that there are wide ranging benefits available by increasing the amount of exercise we do. Spending time outdoors, regularly moving and being active, can only be a good thing.

“That is why I think Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives is a fantastic initiative, as in year one it will see more than 70 parks across the country hosting a range of free and accessible activities that will get everyone moving and having fun. I'll certainly be getting my family involved.

“I’m very proud to chair the expert evaluation committee and one of my roles is to help robustly measure and evaluate this initiative to ensure that the programme delivers locally targeted opportunities to get more people active and genuinely supports the needs of each local community.”

For more information on Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives activities across Birmingham, please visit or


Notes to editors

For a full list of all participating Birmingham Parks and for supporting imagery and interviews, please contact:

Emma Capon: or call on 0208 2372434/07920 581515

Susie Flynn: or call 07826 916573 or email

Geoff Coleman, Media Officer, Birmingham City Council: or call 0121 303 3501/07920 750004

¹ Survey of 300 people in Birmingham as part of a nationwide survey of 2,070 UK adults commissioned in May 2014 by Redshift research

*Statistic taken from ukactive - turning the tide of inactivity report

Coca-Cola Great Britain

Coca-Cola Great Britain is responsible for marketing 21 brands and over 100 products to consumers across Great Britain, with a focus upon developing new brands and extending existing brands including Coca-Cola (recognised as the world's most valuable brand).

Other Coca-Cola Great Britain brands include Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Oasis, Glaceau vitaminwater, Schweppes, 5 Alive, Lilt, Kia Ora, Relentless Energy Drink and Powerade. The Coca-Cola Great Britain portfolio is worth £2,095 million with value sales growth of 4.8% in the past year. Within this, the My Coke trilogy (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero) is worth £1,162 million (Neilsen, w/c 20/04/13).

Encouraging people to be more active is just one way in which Coca-Cola Great Britain is helping people to make healthier choices and live a more balanced lifestyle. Last year we announced four global business commitments to contribute to happier, healthier and more active communities. These commitments are to: make low and no calorie options available in every country; market responsibly, including no advertising to children under the age of 12; provide transparent nutritional information, including calorie content, on the front of our packs; and help get people by moving by supporting physical activity programmes in every country.

Coca-Cola has a long history of investing in and supporting active healthy lifestyles – from sport on the world stage to at the grassroots. Movement inspires happiness and Coca-Cola has always been about promoting happiness and optimism; it's a natural extension of our brand. We're proud of our partnerships with the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, Special Olympics and StreetGames.

For more information about Coca-Cola Great Britain, please visit our website at

Active Parks Birmingham

Building on the success of the award-winning free physical activity Be Active scheme, Birmingham City Council, with the support of Birmingham Sport and Physical Activity Partnership, launched Active Parks as a six-site pilot in 2013. Visitors to the five sites were offered a wide range of free activities, including:

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Tai Chi
  • Park Fit
  • Bushcraft
  • Gardening
  • Buggyfit
  • Netball
  • Rounders
  • Walking

The pilot project proved to be hugely popular, with user feedback highlighting a number of positives, including:

  • Active Parks helps families exercise together.
  • It appeals to all ages.
  • People who do not traditionally access leisure facilities are more likely to stay active in parks and open spaces.
  • The project changes people's perceptions of where they can be active.
  • People attending for exercise are going on to volunteer, becoming active members of the community.

Some examples of Active Parks in Birmingham include the following:

  • Senneleys Park, Senneleys Park Road B31 1AD
  • Cotteridge Park, Franklin Road B30 2HN
  • Walkers Heath Park, Redditch Road B38 0AU
  • Edgbaston Reservoir, Rotton Park Road, Gillott Road, Inknield Port Road B16 9EE
  • Moonlit Park and Sunset Park, Mosedale Way B15 2BL
  • Lickey Hills Country Park, Leach Green Lane Birmingam B45 8DX
  • Handsworth Park, Bromford Close, Church Lane, Holly Road B20 2RS
  • Kings Heath Park, Vicarage Road Brandwood B14 7TQ
  • Eastside / City Centre, Grosvenor Street B4 7QD
  • Perry Hall Playing Field, Crantock Road B42 1RP
  • Summerfield Park, Dudley Road B16 0EU
  • Brookvale Park, Lakeside Walk B23 7YT
  • Billesley Common, Merrits Brook Lane B13 0PT
  • Kings Norton Park/ Nature Reserve Pershore Road South B38 8TW
  • The Ring / Enderby Park, Primrose Croft Kingstanding B23 5BD
  • Chamberlain Gardens, Skipton Road Ladywood B16 8JL
  • Cofton Park, Lowhill Lane Birmingham B45 8UN
  • Bloomsbury Park, Bloomsbury Street B7 5BD
  • Muntz Park/ Selly Park Recreation Ground, Raddlebarn Road B29 7DA
  • Witton Lakes, Perry Common Road Birmingham B23 7AS
  • Daisy Farm, Daisy Farm Road Birmingham B14 4QQ
  • West Heath Park, Redhill Road Kings Norton B31 3PB

In February, Active Parks was used as an example of best practice in Lord Coe’s report: Moving More, Living More The Physical Activity Olympic and Paralympic Legacy for the Nation:

One of the UK’s greenest cities, Birmingham has almost 600 parks and public open spaces.

The Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives means the initiative will now be expanded to cover 50 parks across the city.

Additional information on physical inactivity

ukactive Turning the tide of inactivity Report – January 2014

  • One in four people in England fail to achieve more than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week over a 28-day period even though they can do it in three ten-minute bites.
  • Highest deprivation areas are almost 10 per cent more physically inactive than lowest deprivation areas.
  • There is a disproportionately low spend on programmes to tackle physical inactivity by local authorities compared to other top tier public health concerns.
  • Reducing physical inactivity by just one per cent a year over a five year period would save local authorities £1.2 billion.
  • Birmingham is ranked 132 out of 150 councils nationwide in terms of activity levels. 34.27 % of adults in Birmingham are inactive.

Background on the use of Parks across the UK:

Policy Exchange Parkland Report- November 2013

  • There are 27,000 parks around the UK: they're inclusive, sociable and family-friendly, and available to everyone in a community to use free of charge.
  • 93% of people think it's important to have green space nearby and 92% of us visit public green spaces.
  • Parks are at the heart of the local community. They are often much loved but occasionally potentially under-utilised as an asset and resource to promote public health through increased physical activity and better social engagement and cohesion in a community. The benefits of exercising in the open air and the psychological uplift in mood we can enjoy simply by being outdoors is well documented.
  • Local authorities are being squeezed by increased financial pressures leading to a reduction in spending on parks and other green spaces under their leisure provision. Spending cuts which are only going to get more severe in years to come.
  • The cuts were felt most deeply in the North East with councils cutting the amount they spend on green spaces by almost 40% over the past three years. This compares to just a 3.4% reduction in spending in the South East.

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