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Playing Out as a Community Development Tool: An Idea Whose Time has Come

posted this in Community, Nature, Neighbourliness on 23/06/2017

Challenges to Building Connected Communities.

My role is to support the council’s vision of building sustainable, resilient communities. In particular, my team is focussed on growing social capital in the areas that are most in need of support, whilst helping communities to make the best use of their extensive social resources in the more prosperous parts of the county.

The climate of constrained resources that all local authorities are facing poses real challenges in terms of continuing to provide the same level of service that people have come to expect. As a rural county, Monmouthshire has the added conundrum of a geographically dispersed population, with the county’s four main towns each situated at the corners of the county.

In common with many places across the country, we have also witnessed a kind of slow-motion social fragmentation, where over a period of decades we’ve sleep-walked into a situation where social fabric is less strong. And we know that, nationally, trust in public institutions is also dwindling.

Playing Out Sessions: Asset Based Community Development?

In Monmouthshire we are doing our best to meet the challenges head on by investing in our communities and by working with them to do great things together. In our county we’re clear that we want people to have a belief that the council stands for them – that we’re all on the same side.

In partnership with our citizens, we are exploring using the Playing Out model as part of a suite of activity that is simply designed to bring people together.

For us it’s a form of traditional community development: small-scale, local, creating the conditions for people to connect and find common ground with other people where they live. We don’t want to own it or do it for people.

Of course, if we really wanted to have twenty play streets up and running by next month, as a council we could make that happen – but that would be to seriously miss the point. For our communities to be resilient and sustainable, they need to build on their own existing assets.

The Council’s Role in Supporting Playing Out

We’re happy to take our time and to let playing out in Monmouthshire grow organically. We don’t want to own it or do it for people, but we will absolutely support and encourage any residents who want to make it happen where they live.

We can help people organise street play on their streets by providing a straightforward road closure application process, publicising the scheme, providing training and helping with road signs. We will also signpost people to Playing Out’s website and the support available from them. We’re excited to see where this will take us.

Judith Langdon, Whole Place Officer, Monmouthshire County Council.

Start Playing Out Now

If you want to implement playing out in your area, the Local Authority information page has a wealth of information for councils. We also have a directory of authorities supporting street play.

Playing Out Stories

Read more about Playing Out’s impact in communities:

The difference playing out has made to one community in Bristol

Blenders, babysitters and burglars, connecting neighbours in unexpected ways.

For more stories and help, visit our website http://playingout.net/

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