Raquel in Liverpool
“I want my son to have the fantastic memories I have of playing out unsupervised and creating imaginary worlds with my friends.”
How would you describe your street?
Ours is a long narrow street with 151 terraced houses. It has another street crossing through the middle, so we only close half of it. It’s a quiet street, except when a few disrespectful residents or delivery drivers go over the 20mph speed limit. Almost every home has at least one car, which makes it difficult for drivers to notice if children are playing on the pavement/street.
How long have you been playing out?
We have been doing Playing Out sessions since September 2018
What attracted you to the idea?
I’ve allowed my son to play out since he could walk. Initially this was supervised, but since he was four I gave him some basic rules to adhere to and I let him play out on his own. He loved it. The only problem was that there were no children to play with, even though I knew there were other children of a similar age on our road. I started to look online for how I might be able to solve this problem and came across the Playing Out website.
How did you get started?
I contacted the council, who informed me that they were actually running a pilot Playing Out project in Liverpool. I asked for the help of our local councillors who were more than happy to help in any way they could. I also contacted Playing Out.
Who have been your closest allies?
Playing Out’s support has been fundamental to getting this project off the ground, as has the support of the Green Councillors.
How did the council respond to the idea?
Although they were already running the Pilot project after a Green Councillor put forward the idea, they were not really promoting it at all. After we got involved however they extended the final application by a month, which meant we managed to get three streets in Liverpool to participate!
Unfortunately they did not let us have weekly sessions, demanded that we have insurance (which Playing Out kindly paid for) and we had to purchase massive road signs, which our local Green Councillors kindly paid for.
What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge is yet to come – convincing the council to let us carry on, once the pilot year is up, and allowing us to have weekly sessions. Also working with us on signage that is easier to store.
What has been the best thing for you or your street?
Meeting lots of new neighbours, both from my perspective and my son’s. Opening up more discussion about children’s need to play more.
Any favourite moments?
After it snowed in the Winter temperatures remained low, so when we had Playing Out there was still ice on the ground. Kids had sleigh rides and an ‘ice’ dam was built, all without the adults showing or telling them what to do. We also started the year being pirates! I asked people to keep cardboard boxes from Christmas to use for a pirate ship. The ship was built, ran into some difficulties, was shipwrecked, and smaller life boats were then built. It was great fun!
Any tips or advice for others?
Just do it!
What is the one bit of advice you wished you’d had before you started?
Not everyone thinks this is important, and that is also alright.
Where did your motivation come from?
Finally, what do you hope the Playing Out movement will achieve?
Get bigger and even encourage schools to include more play time in their curriculum, and to help their kids to play out no matter what the weather.
Raquel and her street are just part of the action taking place around the UK, led mainly by parents and supported by forward thinking local authorities and community organisations. Read other parent and resident Playing Out stories here.
Want to start playing out more and be part of this change? See our Four Simple Steps or check out our other ideas to support children’s freedom.