Summer is around the corner. Yay! It’s a great time to get out more. And you don’t have to go far. But our streets aren’t just for travelling along… they are places where we can all enjoy spending time – and that includes children too. Here’s how to make your streets safer for children to play – encourage your council to set up a Play Streets policy. The team at Playing Out CIC are here to give you free help.
To help your council to get set up with a Play Street Policy, Playing Out, the organisation who support play streets around the UK, are hosting two 1hr practical, free, info-giving webinars in the coming month to support councils and community organisations to enable play streets in your areas.
Read more, share with your relevant contacts, and sign up for free at the links below:
Play streets for councils – 2 March 2023, 2-3pm
Learn about the role of the council in supporting play streets for all residents in your council area
Play streets for community development – 15 March 2023, 1-2pm
Learn about how play streets can support community development in communities facing greater disadvantage, including a free kit offer and toolkit for practitioners
Play streets are short, resident-led, temporary road closures enabling children to play safely outside their own front doors once a week or month. As well as giving children the opportunity to be more active, learn skills and make friends on their street, play streets can be good for the adults too by bringing them together with this community event. Like school streets, they can support the aims of active travel, reduced car dominance and safe community connection.
A School Play Street is a cross between a Play Street and a School Street. The road outside a school is closed to motor traffic so the pupils can have a special play street event outside their own school. It can be a one-off or an occasional event and is a great way to show how much better the streets are when children can play safely and enjoy the space.
Visit our Playing Out Play Streets Shop for all your play street resources.
Play streets provide many benefits in terms of boosting active lifestyles, addressing loneliness and making streets safer all of which align with the strategic priorities of local authorities. Here is a reminder from our previous blog of five reasons to support play streets from Lucy Colbeck, Play Streets Development Officer at Playing Out.
Five Reasons Why Councils should Support Play Streets
- Increase children’s physical activity and wellbeing
Play is essential for children’s wellbeing – it’s how they socialise and make sense of the world around them. It is vital for their mental health and their main form of physical exercise. These are all especially important now, as children have experienced a long period of semi-isolation and sedentary time indoors, to the detriment of their mental and physical health.
If you give children space and freedom outdoors, they will quite naturally play and be more active. One parent has described it as “getting exercise without noticing”. Play streets give children a chance to do this close to home.
- Build strong, inclusive communities
Communities now need support to build resilience, connection and trust again, preventing further crises of loneliness and isolation. Play streets can be transformative for street communities. They create new and important connections between neighbours of all ages. These connections support everyday contact and conviviality, friendships between adults and children, the exchange of help of all kinds, and a range of other neighbourhood activities.
We know of streets where neighbours were able to support each other throughout the pandemic because of the connections they had built through organising play streets.
- Promote safer streets and support active travel
Play streets, like school streets, support the current local and national government focus on active travel and safe streets. They help shift attitudes and pave the way for more permanent changes to our streets which need community buy-in, such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Play streets could be even used as a community engagement tool for such initiatives.
With traffic-dominated streets being one of the main barriers to children playing out near home, creating safe space on the doorstep helps children to be more active, and makes for friendlier, more connected communities.
- Continue to support covid-recovery
Play streets are in essence simply additional safe outdoor space for children to play on their own doorstep. They are for neighbours only; they are not public events and never feel crowded. Organisers are extremely responsible citizens and with guidance, play streets can be socially distanced and safe. Play streets create extra hyper-local public space and could be a powerful and safe way for communities to connect and heal from the challenges and isolation of covid restrictions.
- Simple and low-cost
Most of the work of organising a play street is done by residents, with support from Playing Out and local organisations. There are some admin and promotion costs associated with a play street scheme – these are usually similar to any street party application process. There may also be some costs for provision of road signs and kit boxes for residents to. But mainly, the council simply needs to make it easy for people to get on with it!
Playing Out have loads of free information and advice on their website to help you set up or grow play streets in your area. Find out more at www.playingout.net
Plus, keep an eye on our communications channels for an exciting announcement coming soon!
Brought to you by Brightwayz and Brightkidz social enterprise – products, projects and information to support active travel initiatives. See our range of products to support your active travel campaigns here. Some items are currently feature on our Brightwayz website www.brightwayz.co.uk