Big Luncher Claire, tells us about her street's plans to play out this autumn.
We held a Big Lunch on our street this June. It was a great day with lots of food, a cake competition and chatting, but what was really lovely, and what we didn't expect, was that the children of the street all started playing together.
Their ages range from 5 through to mid-teens and they attend multiple different schools. They enjoyed the street being shut to traffic, it was exciting to be zipping up and down at full speed on scooters and bikes ALL day, and when the food was cleared away and the adults were taking the bunting down, the kids started a ball game, which all ages could join. On their own, off their own bat, they hung out, they chatted, they played and they got to know each other. And then they asked, 'when are we going to shut the road again?'.
It didn't feel quite right to wait a whole year to do this again, so we started chatting. A neighbouring road close to traffic on a regular basis as a play street, so we asked what that involved. We are lucky to live in Hertfordshire where Playing Out have worked really hard with the local council to make regular playing out sessions possible with a single road closure form.
We are currently applying to shut the road in September, just for a couple of hours on a Sunday, to give the children a chance to play freely and the adults a chance to chat and reconnect again after the summer holidays. We're really looking forward to it, and it just shows what a Big Lunch can lead to.
Interested? Here's some more info...
Playing Out is a national parent-led movement aimed at restoring children’s freedom to play out where they live. Play street sessions are organised by neighbours as a way of reclaiming streets for children. They build a sense of community and give children the chance to run around, play and make friends right outside their own front doors.
During a playing out session, the road is closed to through traffic and residents retain vehicle access to their houses, with volunteer ‘stewards’ walking in front of cars to ensure safety. Parents are responsible for their own children as normal and play is free, unstructured and child-led.
You can do this as a one-off event using a street party application, but many councils now have a policy in place that lets you have regular play street sessions (up to once a week) under a single annual order.
To find out everything you need to know about playing out and play streets, go to their website where you will find a wealth of information, tools, and inspiration.