Play Streets and Covid-19 – Top Tips
We are hearing from parents and residents around the UK, asking how to get play streets going as we emerge from lockdown. Below are some tips for running a playing out session at this time.
Consultation and inclusion
You might have increased connection on your street since the lockdown – so use those WhatsApp or Facebook groups to get a discussion going! But don’t forget that not everyone will be online, so careful door knocking (stepping back to socially distance) or leafletting is still important.
Older or vulnerable people who are shielding in particular must be considered carefully, because of the increased anxieties around social activity at this time. Luckily because it is an organised session at a specific time, they can avoid it if that’s the most comfortable option for them.
If they do want to be involved, how can you do this in a way that is positive for them? You could suggest that they sit in the doorway or front garden and offer to chalk out a protective area around them. You could think of ways for children / others in the street to interact safely with them and ensure they feel included e.g. chatting from a good distance or maybe even a performance from the children!
This needs particular consideration in relation to Covid guidelines. Can volunteers be briefed online, or at a distance in the street? How can they deal with cars whilst keeping a safe distance from each other and from drivers? All this needs to be discussed and agreed in advance – masks may be a really good idea when stewards are needing to interact with others.
Have hand sanitiser or soap and water available on the street so people can easily wash hands after touching cones, signs or any shared play equipment. Everyone uses their own toilet / house / toys / etc.
Food and drink
It’s always nice to have cups of tea and snacks if you are outside on the street. We recommend everyone making their own and using their own mugs etc. Also, whilst in ‘normal times’ neighbours who aren’t stewarding might have occasionally shared a drink on a nice day, we recommend no alcohol during play streets at all, as it just doesn’t mix with physical distancing.
We always encourage neighbours to take collective responsibility for the safety and smooth running of play street sessions and this is even more important now. Some councils are considering adding a section to their application forms asking people how they will manage distancing.
Free play or organised games?
It will depend on your street, the kind of space available to you, the number of people and age groups of the children. In some cases, it may be possible to allow for more free, child-led play with clear instructions about distancing. Free play is always the preferred option for children but something a bit more organised might be needed in the short term. See here for ideas for physically-distanced street play and games we’ve gathered so far from our network. Children will be good at coming up with games and ideas themselves – the main thing is that they are enjoying themselves!
We also have two great stories from residents who have run a play street safely at this time, Lucy in Peckham and Fern in Streatham, take a look to see how they did. You can also join our Facebook Group for advice and support from other parents and residents.