They became a lifeline for many during the pandemic as many people reconnected with their local parks and found them to be a haven during a troubled time.

Some of us are lucky enough to have a dear green space on our doorsteps and conjure up memories of freedom as youngsters playing in the park, kicking your first football, or even falling off your bike when learning to ride.

Surrounding ourselves in nature and taking time out to recognise its many health benefits, can often get lost in our busy daily lives.

However, now a campaign is being launched to safeguard Scotland’s parks and greenspaces for the future, the first ever of its kind and The Herald is backing it.

Launched exclusively in The Herald today, Parks4Life campaign is set to be Scotland’s first fund for parks to provide an endowment to provide funding for Scottish greenspaces.

The fund, which is organised by Scotland's parks and outdoor charity, greenspace scotland, aims to raise £1 million by the end of the year.

And to reach their target and Herald readers are being urged to get involved.

To garner support for the fund and spread its message of the importance of parks, the group is using the power of photography.

Photographer David Anderson has been travelling the length and breadth of the country from the Hebrides to Leith, capturing in pictures what people’s local parks mean to them.

Park Portraits is the digital photo gallery which has resulted from the campaign, telling stories in image form of the roles parks have played in people’s lives.

This digital gallery is also set to come to life, with prints of the projects to form a travelling exhibition around Scottish parks this autumn, which greenspace scotland hopes will encourage park goers to donate to the fund.

One of those captured is Willie Mungall, a veteran Royal Marine Commando who has improved his health with a weekly walking group in Edinburgh’s Saughton Park as part of the ‘Walk with a Doc’ programme led by Health All Round.

The Herald:

The campaign hopes to highlight initiatives like these which take place across Scotland, bringing communities together and improving their quality of life - and provide funding so similar projects can be sustained all over the country.

Not all the stories are about huge changes being made - also featured in Park Portraits are three generations of a family who have continued to visit the same park that holds childhood memories for all of them. The campaign wants to highlight the everyday importance of greenspaces that can sometimes be taken for granted.

Read more: Rouken Glen park: My heart is broken by damage that greed has done

Scots pay more than 162 million visits to parks and greenspaces every year. NatureScot surveys found that half of all visits to the outdoors were to local parks and open spaces, coming in ahead of beach trips and outings to the mountains and Scottish hills. 

On the reasons for this, three quarters said spending time outdoors helped them to destress, relax and unwind. 

The Parks4Life Fund’s development was sponsored by a grant from The National Lottery Hertiage Fund.

Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland, said: “Greenspace is a universal service for all of Scotland’s urban residents – we know that access to these spaces is a massive factor in quality of life, and can be a game changer in creating healthier, happier and stronger communities. 

“The Park Portraits project has allowed us to tell the real stories of everyday park users, from those with fond family memories to the volunteers that enable these greenspaces to provide an oasis for their visitors. It’s been an absolute pleasure to hear how many people have a deep connection with their local park and are keen to share their stories.

“Our hope is the Park Portraits series will inspire other people who love their parks to support the Parks4Life fund by donating, as well as sharing their own park stories online. Together, we can help keep Scotland’s parks in good heart for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”

The Herald:

Parks4Life is asking people to donate online or by texting PARK to 70450 to make a one-off donation.

People across Scotland who would like to share their own Park Portrait and park story are invited to post on social media using the hashtag

#Parks4LifePortraits and submit to the greenspace scotland page here.