If you like the idea of your children being able to play safely in the street, then read on; Playing Out is a country-wide initiative that aims to achieve just that. Streets across the Adur and Worthing district have successfully rolled out the scheme, after a pilot last year. I spoke to Katie Fewings from Playing Out Westcourt to find out more.
Katie’s street has been running Playing Out sessions since last year’s pilot. The road is open for play and closed to through traffic once a month from June to October. She explained what was involved in setting up the sessions. The first step was to tell local residents what they had in mind. This was done using a formal letter, and by knocking on people’s doors. There was very little opposition because the road would only be closed for a couple of hours, residents could still drive in and out, slowly, behind a steward, and the scheme was Council approved. The next step was to complete the application. Once this had been approved, an informal leaflet drop was done to confirm dates.
Katie says that the main thing that needs to be organised is the stewards; two people are needed at each end of the road, ideally there are sufficient people to allow stewards to have breaks. There are no organised activities.
“We just let them get on with it. There are usually loads of scooters and bikes going up and down. [The children] seem to manage it quite well.”
She points out that a Playing Out session is not a street party, though people sometimes bake cakes for the occasion. Activities typically include chalking on the road, hopscotch, skipping, and going into each other’s houses. It’s an opportunity for people to meet their neighbours.
Typically, Playing Out takes place after school or at the weekend but it depends on what suits the families arranging it. Organisers can request any dates and times that work for them; the only stipulation is that they must be during daylight. The set up process might seem a bit daunting, but there is lots of support available. The local Council can offer advice on completing a Playing Out application, including assistance with form filling and tips on road closure. NSL (the company that manage on street parking on behalf of Adur and Worthing Councils) provide signs, print letters and supply Playing Out kits, which include whistles and high visibility vests for stewards, and items such as pavement chalk. Adur and Worthing Playing Out , a voluntary group set up to support Playing Out, provides information and support, and helped fund the Playing Out kits. The best thing is that it won’t cost your street anything to start Playing Out.
The Adur and Worthing scheme has been so successful that it has been offering advice to neighbouring Councils. There is a similar scheme in Brighton & Hove. Hopefully Arun will be launching a scheme based on Worthing’s in the near future. For more information, visit the Adur and Worthing website www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/get-up-and-active/activities-and-events/playing-out/, Playing Out Worthing website www.adurworthingplayingout.org.uk/ or Facebook Page www.facebook.com/adurworthingplayingout. For Brighton & Hove, visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Street-Play-in-Brighton-and-Hove/326875114085199. For more general information, see http://playingout.net.
Simone grew up in the Worthing area and currently lives in Angmering with her husband and young daughter. She blogs about what they’ve been doing at www.angmeringmummy.blogspot.co.uk.
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