Playing Out in Birmingham on National Playday

A guest post by Richard Browne.

Birmingham held its first Playing Out sessions on Wednesday 7 August to coincide with this year’s National Playday theme of Playful places.

Three roads in the Kings Heath area of the city were temporarily closed to traffic from noon to 4 pm to allow local children to play out safely in the street.

It is estimated that around 600 people, including 200 children, took part throughout the afternoon across the three streets. The feedback from people who took part has been overwhelmingly positive:

‘It was a fantastic day. Can’t wait to do it again!’

Goldsmith Road street organiser

‘It was good in Albert Road. I took one of my neighbour’s kids for the afternoon so didn’t get to visit the other roads. In Albert Road, all the kids seems to be completely absorbed in play all afternoon.’

Local resident

‘Normally, parents tell you off for messing around, but today there are no cars and we can have freedom.’

Shalana, 12 years old

‘It’s really great for the community. I don’t know half my neighbours. It is nice to come and meet people.’

Local resident

‘This is fantastic. It’s really positive for the area. The boys love it!’

Local resident and father of Jacob 5, and Callum 3

The impetus for starting Playing Out came from Birmingham’s social inclusion process, Giving Hope Changing Lives.  The process, led by the Bishop of Birmingham, involved talking with people across the city to explore how issues of exclusion and poverty can be addressed more effectively. It aims to take a new approach that will help raise aspirations and bring lasting change to the quality of life of our most disadvantaged communities and neighbourhoods.

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The findings from the process resulted in the publication of a White Paper, Making Birmingham an Inclusive City, earlier this year.

The opportunity for unstructured outdoor play for children was something that was found to be missing by the process, and one of the recommendations in the White Paper is to increase play opportunities for children and young people.

The Playing Out sessions on 7th August were organised by Moseley and Kings Heath Playing Out Group, consisting of local residents, community groups and organisations with an interest in children’s play, and coordinated by John Hill-Daniel of Kings Heath Space Exploration Centre, with support from Birmingham City Council.

We want the Playing Out sessions on 7th August to be the start of something much more sustainable. Our ambition is to have street play sessions happening across the city on a regular basis and for the city council to adopt supportive policies to enable residents to organise street play easily and at minimal cost.

 

Richard Browne is the Partnership Manager at Fair Brum.

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