Spring playing out opportunities for Bristol children

Lighter evenings could mean more Bristol children can play out after school in their own streets this spring says Playing Out, a Bristol-based organisation promoting street play. Playing Out supports residents to organise temporary street play sessions for a few hours after school, during which the street is closed to through traffic and opened for play. The project has been established in Bristol for two years and Bristol City Council last September made it easier for residents to apply for more frequent road closures for street play through a new ‘Temporary Play Street Order’.

Now Playing Out wants to encourage more Bristol residents to take advantage of the new policy and is running a series of free informal workshops across the city to give advice and support to people interested in bringing street play to their neighbourhood.

“As the evenings get lighter we all look forward to spending longer outdoors and children in particular gain so much from being able to play freely outside,” says project co-founder Alice Ferguson. “The problems of overweight, sedentary children are growing in our society and giving them the chance for regular, semi-supervised outdoor play in their own street is one powerful solution to this. In addition children need to feel part of the place they are living in and connected to those around them. Playing Out gives them this chance and brings together neighbours of all ages, strengthening a sense of community.”

Bristol City Council is leading the way in encouraging street play and the Temporary Play Street Order gives residents the chance to open their street for play for a few hours every week or month. Residents can apply for one or more closures through one easy application form and Playing Out offers information and one to one support for anyone beginning the process.

Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Councillor Dr Jon Rogers, said:

“Street play is an excellent way for children growing up in the city to explore their neighbourhood. The council has listened to local people and worked with them to make it easier to put temporary road closures in place, so kids can play out safely. With the summer on the way, it is great to see changes to the application process leading to more play sessions. I hope other communities in Bristol and beyond will be inspired to give this a try.”

Lucy Fiddick helped organise a one-off street play session in her street in Southville and has now joined with neighbours to do this every month.  Her street is now one of three Temporary Play Streets in Bristol and several others are applying to run regular street play sessions.

“My own children had so much fun being able to play in the street with neighbours’ children and really gained confidence. It was wonderful to see our street transformed from a place people just drive along and park in, to a social place where adults and children came together. We are all really looking forward to this being a regular part of our street life now,” she explains.

The free workshops are open to anyone interested in finding out more about how street play can benefit children and communities. Each workshop session will include advice and information on consulting with neighbours, a step by step guide to applying for a temporary road closure to Bristol City Council, publicising the session to all residents and guidance on how to safely steward a Playing Out session.

The first workshops will be held on the following dates:

·           St Anne’s Children’s Centre, 26th March

·           Hillcrest School, 27th March

·           Compass Point School, Bedminster, 18th April

Other workshops are being organised for later dates in April and May.

For more information or to book a place at one of the workshops please contact alice@playingout.net or ring 07896 957141. For general information on Playing Out visit www.playingout.net . For play in Bristol visit www.goplacestoplay.org.uk

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