This is not conventional volunteering…..
“Play Streets contributes to a number of the Councils’ priorities and fits with Members’ desire to see the Councils undertake a more enabling role for local communities, which includes a balancing act of reducing the barriers and red tape and facilitating and providing light touch support.” Community Officer, Adur and Worthing Councils.
Our experience at Playing Out shows that motivated, well-supported residents are the key to enabling street play to happen.
This is not conventional volunteering, where people fill the role of a substitute employee or do something because it’s “worthy”. A play street activator is likely to be driven by a personal desire to change things in their community and will work best at their own time and pace, using their own networks.
People living on a street or estate are the best people to lead on making things happen there because:
- They are motivated
- They know their community and what is needed
- Resident-led action brings the community together
- It is sustainable and low-cost
- It empowers people to be more active citizens
Who are they?
Street play activators can be anyone motivated to make change happen, but the people who are most willing to take action for their children are parents. Many parents grew up playing out themselves and feel very strongly that they want this for their children. They know their children need to get away from screens, be more active and feel part of their community, and are willing to put time and effort into making this happen.
People may also be simply motivated by wanting to get to know their neighbours and build a friendlier street community.
However, parents are often super-busy. So making things as easy as possible for them will mean that they are more likely to take action.
What support do they need?
As a local authority you can make sure that parents know what you are offering. You can put the right systems in place to make street play easy to organise. Ensure that you have an easily findable section on your website and a link to Playing Out where parents can find guidance and inspiration.
In areas where street play has been most successful, Councils have funded community organisations (e.g. Playing Out in Bristol; Hackney Play Association in Hackney) who have been able to provide hands-on, peer support and equipment such as signs and kits to enable communities to organise playing out for themselves.
Helpful things you can do
- Put a street play policy in place
- Create clear and simple application forms
- Provide ‘Road Closed’ signs and kit
- Make consultation procedures straightforward
- Offer political support and practical help
When is a good time to start?
Now! Winter/Early spring is a good time to start thinking of how to inspire parents locally, so they are ready to organise street play when the weather turns warmer.
Playing Out can help!
We are holding an Activator Day on Saturday 24th February for people who are initiating street play in their area or want to support it beyond their own street. If you know any residents or parents who you think would benefit, please send them this invitation. The day is free, but if you can help pay their travel expenses that would be even better!
The day is mainly aimed at resident activists, but if you are interested in coming along yourself do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org