Play streets

CYP & Built Environment Inquiry

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Could you be an area activator?

Be part of a growing movement of parents and others around the UK who want to change things for children.

We can’t stand by and watch while it becomes less and less safe and acceptable for children to play out in the streets and spaces where they live. We want freedom for all children to play out and belong in streets, public space and in their communities.

Area activators are ordinary people all across the UK who are taking action to seed and grow play streets locally and change things for children in their area.

If you want to join the Playing Out Activator network and receive ad-hoc mailings, email [email protected].

What do area activators do?

The role is very dependent on what you want to do, and what you have the time and energy to do. Below are some common things that area activators do with support from Playing Out.

1. Organise a trial play street
Often, they are the first person to organise a play street in their area. This can be the first pebble in the pond that creates great ripples!

2. Get the council on board
As part of this, they might also lobby (pester/campaign for) their council to introduce a supportive play street policy. Read more about how to get your council on board. They then often work closely with the council to make sure the policy works well and provide feedback on what could be improved.

Julia in Cambridgeshire successfully petitioned her county council to make it easier for all residents to do play streets.

3. Grow play streets locallywe love playing out chalk
If their council has a supportive policy for play streets, an activator might decide to grow play streets by doing the following:

4. Other creative things!!
Play streets might not be for you – there are loads of other things you can do to support children’s freedom to play out. Here are a few ideas – you may well have your own and we would love to hear about them!

Playing Out activators, Nicola and Lesley have supported many other parents and residents across St Albans Hertfordshire to run a play street or hold a street party. Read about why and how they’ve helped so much playing out to happen where they live over the years.

Playing Out activator guide

For loads more information about the activator role, download our free activator guide.

Playing Out activator network – support from us

We have a friendly Facebook group for activators to ask questions and share inspiration.

We organise an annual activator day (in person or online) and bi-monthly informal zoom catch ups with activators from around the UK. These are really inspiring and friendly, and anyone is welcome, even if you’re not sure if you are an activator! Contact us to join the next one.

For more in-depth support, you might consider joining, or starting a Living Streets Group.

Are activators paid?

Most activators start by taking action on a voluntary basis, because they are strongly motivated to change things for children, and many will be happy to keep it that way. Activators are often fitting this into their normal lives, and it’s brilliant to do whatever you can, however small.

However, particularly if play streets start to pick up in a big way, and an activator finds themselves getting really busy supporting streets and the council, it can become a paid job.

Get in touch with us for a template activator role – with tasks, time estimates and budget estimates. This is based on our experience of supporting Activators with bits of funding in Bristol and elsewhere.

There are two main ways to get funding for activators’ time or for resources:

girl chalking play out in the street

1. Council or community organisation applies for funding for play streets
If a council or local community organisation decides they want to put lots of resource into getting play streets up and running, they may seek funding to pay for an activator’s time and resources. Examples of where this has happened include Hackney Council in partnership with Hackney Play Association and Sustainable St Albans


2. Activators decide to start a constituted community group (CIC) and apply for their own funding
If there are a few of you and enough energy and momentum, you may wish to start your own Playing Out group and apply for funding to pay for your time. A great example of this is Play.Meet.Street in North Tyneside who have supported over 60 streets to play out.

Our activator guide has more information about all of this. If you have questions contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Why support street play?

The impact of play streets