Community Consultation in Somerset

How would your community go about developing a new place for children and young people to play? Here’s how a small community in Somerset went about it…

Packsaddle is a small area in Frome, a bit cut off from the rest of the town, and that’s how the residents like it – far enough away for some quiet, but close enough to get involved.

One of the community members at Packsaddle contacted us at Wansdyke Play Association (WPA)  to help out. Jane wanted the community to consult regarding the play-space there. It’s a small park and although it’s kept nice by the council (and the users), Jane felt that it didn’t seem to entice all the kids or the community, and so wanted to set up a consultation to find out what they thought.

This is where we came in.

Our experience at putting on events meant that we could be there for Jane, to check in with, vet and check over her flyers and publicity, suggest anything she’s missed and, of course, be present and entertain the kids to enable them to consult.

Our involvement with the organising was tiny, giving our presence as support and safety net should things go wrong.

Jane organised the event, created flyers and publicised it, and made it happen. She even organised an Ice Cream van!

On the day, we took a small marquee, some flasks for hot drinks, tea, coffee and biscuits. The other essential kit for consultation included a piece of netting to use as a hammock and some ropes! The weather was wet, and a little cold, so we were all a bit anxious, but in the end we needn’t have worried, we had an excellent turnout.

Within minutes there were kids chasing ropes, hanging on them, swinging in trees, smiling, laughing and running around, with a full marquee buzzing with ideas and thoughts. In a small area with only around 150 houses, we had 45 people volunteering information, thoughts, ideas and most of all support for Jane and her initiative.

Afterwards we recieved a beautiful email thanking us for our job well done!!! Very much appreciated by the team.

And now there is a solid list of things for them to be moving towards, ranging from a cycle path around the perimeter for kids to scoot and cycle to a permanent structure for teens to hang out in – there’s loads of suggestions to take on to the next stage, and a community on the move.

Thanks to all involved in the Packsaddle consultation – from Jane and the Kids, to the parents and ropes – we look forward to the next one.

If anyone else is interested in motivating their neighbours and community to invest in safe, challenging, beutiful places for the children and young people of your community to play, then do contact your local play organisation – take a look at the list of members on the Free Time Consortium info page for suggestions or contact Play England.

If it’s in and around Radstock or Frome (these being in Somerset), we’d love to hear from you at Wansdyke Play Association.

Keep Playin’ 😉


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