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Playing out on estates

The ‘playing out’ model was developed on a terraced street where traffic was the main problem. But you don’t have to live on a street…

And traffic may not be the main problem. There is often car-free space right on the doorstep around high rise estates, but children are still not able to play out as much as they would like due to due to other barriers such as parental concerns and a general sense that the space is not “theirs” to play in.

Trying out the ‘playing out’ model with residents in high rise estates

Over the past few years, we’ve been working with residents in Bristol tower blocks to see if a version of the ‘playing out’ model could help change things for children. We’ve found that many of the features of the original model apply in this setting, even without closing a road. For example:

  • A set time to play out together
  • Using existing / underused space on the doorstep
  • Making the space safe
  • Child-led free play
  • Simple, low-cost, sustainable
  • Low-key adult presence
  • Neighbour-led

Positive outcomes

Many of the positive outcomes are also the same as on a street:

  • Children are active, have fun & make friends
  • Bringing neighbours together; breaking down barriers
  • Building active citizenship
  • Making children and play visible and changing attitudes

While there have been some barriers to sessions becoming completely resident-led (not to mention issues with council building-works, but that’s another story), there are signs that more informal, ad-hoc playing out is happening as a result of the sessions and the increased community cohesion.

We are also helping residents to make some low-cost, ‘DIY’ changes to their space, to make it feel more welcoming and used. We’ll also be working towards some bigger community-led changes as funding and opportunities become available.

Next steps…

Based on learning from this project, we aim to publish guidance for residents and community workers on enabling playing out on estates. In the meantime, please contact alice@playingout.net for more information, or just follow the four simple steps to playing out – missing out the road closure application if it’s not needed! Let us know how you get on.

children playing on estate