Meet-ups & Training

SWLEN runs a series of forums, meetings and training events throughout the year to support environmental groups in Richmond Borough. We organise and run:

  • An annual Friends of Parks Groups Forum where groups from across the borough come together to share best practice, problem solve as well as meet with the Parks Department staff.
  • A summer Park Tour around public green spaces in the borough to learn first-hand about what groups have achieved and to problem solve through sharing approaches and ideas. Sometimes we focus specifically on one green space in the borough in order to understand in detail how a group is caring for and supporting a park, common or environment.
  • Bookable regular informal one-to-one coaching sessions  in social media, managing and creating websites, running events, applying for grants and assisting with practical and strategic needs of the Friends Groups.
  • An informal Chairs Forum for the chairs of groups to peer support each other.

Example training sessions we’ve recently run include a Trip to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in Mile End to be inspired by another green space in the heart of London; a Love Parks ‘Seeing Is Believing’; and a social media training and troubleshooting session.

In June 2014 we ran a tour of 5 parks and green spaces around Richmond Borough to showcase the achievements by some Friends Groups as well as discussing challenges and problems, sharing best practice and good ideas.

  • “I thought it was very helpful to see what other Richmond Parks are doing and the problems they are facing and overcoming. I was particularly keen to see what had been achieved at Kneller Park…” David Evans, Palewell Common
  • “It was very encouraging to meet like-minded people from other parks and hear how they were developing their parks to meet users’ needs as well as their thoughts on what we are doing at North Sheen Recreation Ground”. Sue Burden, North Sheen Rec

Training and education providers 

  • Birkbeck University of London (Ecology and Conservation Studies) – Birkbeck University offer some excellent short and long courses, with diplomas and degrees in ecology and conservation studies. They also host free public lectures from the Ecology and Conservation Studies Society.
  • Capel Manor – Capel Manor run a range of courses in horticulture, gardening, landscaping and forestry management. The main campus is in Enfield but courses take place at other locations in London, including Gunnersbury Park (near Chiswick).
  • Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management – IEEM is a professional body which represents and supports professionals in the fields of ecology and environmental management. IEEM offers a wide range of courses in species and habitat management.
  • Twickenham & Thames Valley Bee-Keepers Association – During the active bee-keeping season (March to September), groups of student bee-keepers work with experienced tutors on Friday evenings taking care of the Association’s beehives. Please contact Chris Deaves on 020 8568 2869 or go to the TTVBK website.


Richmond Borough Annual Friends of Parks Groups Forum

SWLEN organises and runs an annual Friends of Parks Groups Forum where groups from across the borough come together to share best practice, problem solve as well as meet with the Richmond Borough Parks Department staff.

This annual meeting, usually held in November, is a great opportunity for people involved in Friends Groups throughout Richmond Borough to come together and share ideas, experiences and challenges. It also provides a useful point to meet and liaise with the Parks Department of Richmond Borough Council, and meet any new contractors.

  • Friends Forum 2015 took place on Wednesday 18th November 2015 at York House, Twickenham. Click here to read more.
  • Friends Forum 2014 took place on 27th November at York House in Twickenham. Click here to read more.
  • The previous Friends Forum to that was held in Twickenham in January 2014. Click here to read more.

Please contact us if you are interested in participating in our future Forums, meetings or training, or need any support or advice in running a Friends Group.