An area within a country park is set to be designated a ‘contemplative space’ for families who have lost loved ones as a result of mental health issues.

Bolton Council have this week published  a report on the idea for Moses Gate Country Park, which was suggested by a resident following the loss of a close family member to suicide.

The suggestion for an area of the park for memorial and contemplative reasons would give ‘a wider awareness of other people locally who had lost their lives in similar circumstances, or who were suffering with their mental health’. The council report said the initial request was to bring forward a memorial feature, such as a sculpture, on a space identified in the ‘red bridge’ area of Moses Gate Country Park.

The council said while that remained an aspiration and funding activities would continue, the space will initially be characterised by marker stones, or similar,

placed at the three main entrance points into the space with an explanatory information panel at the highest volume entry point, near the ‘red bridge’.

If approved, the space will also be improved with crafted oak benches and improved routes through the green space including natural, via cutting arrangements, or constructed footpaths. The council report, said: “Subject to the proposals being approved, the contemplative space will be promoted in conjunction with partners and through the media and the family concerned plan to organise, in consultation with the council, a small ‘soft launch’ event at Moses Gate Country Park.”

Bolton Council said there were no costs for the authority in designating the space. Installation of benches, the provision of new footpaths and the erection of a sculpture or similar will be funded through application for external funding or donation.

They said no additional maintenance of the site is anticipated over and above that which already exists. The report highlighted the prevalence of mental illness on the borough.

Studies have shown the coronavirus pandemic had a negative impact on people’s mental health and well-being, which has resulted in an increased demand for mental health support. In Bolton, an estimated 42,000 people, around 15 per cent of residents aged 16 and over, have a common mental health disorder.