It’s been a while – almost two years – since we took over the North Tyneside playing out mission from House of Objects and established Play.Meet.Street, so it feels like a good time for an update and reflection.
When we got started, ten North Tyneside streets had organised one or more playing out session (mostly in Whitley Bay) and four or five were running regular, monthly sessions (including our own three streets).
In the last two years, another 24 streets have started playing out, with 15 of those running multiple or regular sessions. And we’re currently working with another eight streets looking to get started in the next few weeks.
We have had two ‘Big Days’ of playing out, each with more than a dozen streets playing out on the same day – and we’re just starting to plan another to celebrate World Car Free Day on Sunday 22nd September.
In total, that will mean that, by the end of June this year, 42 North Tyneside streets will have got involved, closing their street to play and meet.
That’s hundreds of hours of playing – on my street alone, we’ve probably played out for almost 200 hours – and, at a conservative estimate, that’s involved well over 1500 children and adults.
And we’ve extended well beyond Whitley Bay, along the coast to Monkseaton, Cullercoats, Tynemouth, and North Shields, and inland to Wallsend, Forest Hall and Longbenton.
To achieve all this, we’ve worked hard to build relationships with lots of different local groups and organisations, including lots of different bits of North Tyneside Council (events, participation, transport, health and sport, education, and many more), the mayor, councillors, our MPs, neighbourhood policing teams, schools, community groups, campaign groups, and, of course, local residents.
We’ve also built links with playing out activists across the country, as the movement has spread to over 80 different local authorities, encouraged and enabled by the national campaign group, Playing Out.
And we’ve attracted attention from local and national media, with coverage in the News Guardian, the BBC, the Guardian (forthcoming imminently!), the Telegraph, the Sunday Times, and the council’s own Our North Tyneside.
Much of this work has been supported by an Awards for All grant which has enabled us to buy lots of Road Closed signs and print lots of leaflets, and we’ve had considerable support of all sorts from Playing Out, but we have done much of this work as unpaid volunteers.
Our plans for the next few months are focused on continuing to expand the number of streets involved, especially in different parts of the borough, and to support the existing streets and help them to keep going, and trying to work out how to become a sustainable organisation that can continue to develop playing out in North Tyneside for years to come.
If you’d like to get involved, please have a look around this site and get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).