Frequently Asked Questions

When we first set up street play sessions, we often get the same questions from a few neighbours who want to know a little more about how it all works and what will happen, so we’ve put together this list of Frequently Asked Questions. You might also want to look at Playing Out’s discussion of Possible Concerns.

What’s the point of street play? Recent research suggests that on streets that play out children had learned a range of physical and social skills, including riding a bike and interacting with other children and that, as a result of playing out, many feel they belong more in their neighbourhood. Street play is part of a national movement, supported by new legislation to enable occasional street closures, which responds to a growing desire to engage communities and promote child health, in particular. Over 700 streets in more than 70 towns and cities across the UK regularly close their streets for play. See also http://playingout.net/why/10-good-reasons/

What happens during a street play session? Once the Road Closed signs are set up (usually attached to wheelie bins), everyone can play. Some streets organise games – often those the adults used to play as children such as kerbie or stuck in the mud – but most just let the kids get on with cycling, scooting, football, hide and seek, and so on. We give each new street bubbles, pavement chalk and a skipping rope. Adults must be present to supervise their children (see below) and most organisers make a real effort to encourage neighbours without small children to join in too. Most streets bring out some snacks and drinks but that’s not compulsory!

Who gets to say if street play happens on your street? Street play is organised by residents. The initiative comes from a group of residents, not from the council or PlayMeetStreet. They must door-knock and/or deliver letters to all homes directly affected by the planned closure, giving them the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns. If these can’t be dealt with amongst the neighbours themselves, PlayMeetStreet will try to help. We very much want this to be a positive experience, but recognise that not all residents will be as keen on the idea. We have to demonstrate that most residents have agreed to the planned closure, so that if the majority of residents are supportive, then these events will go ahead. If you do have concerns, we ask that you see how the closure goes – you may be pleasantly surprised.

Why can’t children play in local parks or their gardens? Even though there are sometimes other local spaces to play, the idea of street play is for children to be able to play on their own streets, outside their homes, and to meet other local children, like many adults used to do when they were young. Street play is also about community building and neighbours getting to know each other. Children playing together on their street helps to build a sense of community and belonging, which in turn makes your street a safer and friendlier place.

What about the potential noise and disruption? All of the evidence from the streets that organise street play sessions is that disruption is minimal. They only last for a short period (2-3 hours) each month and noise levels are not especially high. These are public streets and we cannot prevent noise during reasonable daytime hours. Indeed, during the closure there will be less traffic noise than on a normal day and our experience is that streets are quieter during playing out sessions than when open to traffic, to the extent you are more likely to hear birdsong!

What will happen to traffic? A street play session will not stop you from having car access to your home. The only real difference is that through traffic will be diverted and residents will be asked to drive in and out at walking speed behind a steward (one of your neighbours) in a hi-vis vest. Access will always be ensured for emergency vehicles. Stewards will make sure that children are safely off the road temporarily if vehicle access is needed. If you usually park on the road, you may want to consider parking elsewhere, but you do not have to. Through traffic will be diverted, usually onto neighbouring streets or back alleys, with clear signage and stewards to explain the situation. Although this may have a small impact on neighbouring streets, it is only for a few hours and often at a time (e.g. Sunday afternoons) when traffic is reduced anyway.

Will my property be damaged? Some people worry that their cars or front gardens will be damaged by children playing in the street. There is no reason to believe that your property is at any more risk of being damaged than normal and the experience of hundreds of streets playing out across the UK suggests this happens extremely rarely. During street play sessions, children are supervised by their parents or other carers. Those adults are always responsible for their children at all times. If any damage does occur, the relevant parents would resolve the situation, as they would in any other case of accidental damage.

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Funding news!

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We’re extremely pleased to announce that Play.Meet.Street North Tyneside has recently received a Big Lottery Fund Awards for All grant, focused on growing street play in North Tyneside.

Our primary aim with the award is to have 20 new streets involved by March 2019 (with at least one third of those in more disadvantaged areas of the borough) and to strengthen our support of all streets involved.

At the heart of our plans is a desire to build a active and vibrant local movement in support of playing out, and we’ll be working to communicate and promote this.

As a result of the award, we now have:

  1. resources for street play kits (road closed signs, equipment for stewards’ and for play) for up to 30 streets across North Tyneside and for a network of local street activators to communicate, promote, facilitate and celebrate street play in North Tyneside
  2. the opportunity to really establish a successful and sustainable street play organisation in North Tyneside, including to develop relationships with relevant local organisations (such as the council, local schools, local play organisations, health and wellbeing initiatives etc.) and with other playing out organisations across the UK

If you would like to be one of the new streets or are interested in finding out more, please get in touch (playmeetstreetnt@gmail.com) and check out our other pages here, exploring why street play is such a great idea and how to get started.

 

Information Afternoon

Have you ever thought about closing your street for play for a few hours a month? Are you interested in finding out more?

Play.Meet.Street is promoting and supporting the development of street play in North Tyneside and is keen to recruit new streets to join the ten that already regularly close their streets for play.

We’re holding an information afternoon from 4 to 6 on Wednesday 14th March at Whitley Bay Big Local (305 Whitley Road, NE26 2HU) for anyone wanting to know a bit more or ask questions. We’ll be doing two short introductory talks at 4.30 and 5.30 but you can also just drop in to chat to us.

Children are very welcome – they’ll be some space to play and some drinks and snacks for children and adults.

If you’d like to come along, please register (for free) at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/playing-out-information-afternoon-tickets-43284668609.

If you have any questions, please do email us at playmeetstreetnt@gmail.com.

What is ‘playing out’?

The idea of street play or playing out is, simply, for neighbours to get together every few weeks, after school or at the weekends, to meet and play in their street.

Street play sessions are short, stewarded road closures, giving children the chance to play safely near home, but also making the street feel safer and friendlier for everyone. Parents or carers are always responsible for their own children’s safety and behaviour, as normal.

Neighbours talk about what they’d like to do. We apply to the council for a licence to approve a temporary closure. Usually streets close for about three hours (e.g. 2-5 or 3.30-6.30). In that time, residents can drive to their houses – at a walking pace, led by a steward – but all through traffic is excluded.

As Playing Out explain, the benefits of this kind of street play are many. These are just a few of the benefits we see:

  • We all need – and have the right to – space for play, especially in towns and cities where gardens are small. This is as true for adults as it is for children.
  • Children and adults benefit from getting to know their neighbours and from developing new friendships, with others of both similar and diverse ages.
  • Communities in which people know and recognise each other feel safer.
  • Running around, having fun, and socialising together have enormous benefits for physical and mental health, for children and adults.
  • Air quality improves even after a short street closure, with health benefits for all.

What do I do if I want to close my street for play?

Before you can hold a playing out session you need to:

  1. Contact us by emailing playmeetstreetnt@gmail.com.
  2. Read this page and the information booklet written by Playing Out Bristol and have a look at their website.
  3. Invite your neighbours to a meeting to talk about about what you would like to do.
  4. Decide how much of your street you want to close – it might just be a middle section, or one end, or the whole street if it’s quite short.
  5. Talk to all your neighbours who will be directly affected by the closure (we will give you information to give out). If there are any issues, please contact us, or ask them to do so directly.
  6. After the consultation process, we will contact North Tyneside Council on your behalf and then, when permission has been granted, print out all the leaflets you need to deliver.
  7. Remember: organising street play costs you nothing (apart from maybe a few cakes and sweets) – there is no fee for closing your street and we provide you with all the letters and invitations you’ll need, Road Closed signs, hi-vis vests, whistles, chalk and lots of support.

 

When you’ve got a date: 

  1. Deliver a notice with the date and time of the playing out session to your neighbours.
  2. Put up notice of road closure signs on lampposts.
  3. Decide if you want to get in any supplies, such as chalk, bubbles, biscuits, juice, skipping ropes – and ask neighbours to bring what they can.
  4. Have a look at Playing Out and the games room at Eden Communities to get some new ideas for play – although experience tells us kids mostly want to run, scoot and cycle!

 

On the day of the session:

  1. Put up road closed signs (which we’ll lend to you) at each point where the road is closed, and agree a rota for marshals to keep an eye on them and to lead any car-driving residents to their homes at a walking pace.
  2. Play out, meet and have fun!
  3. If there are any issues, please contact us, or ask those concerned to do so directly.
  4. Share some photos of the fun on our Facebook page.

 

Then:

  1. Talk to your neighbours to see how they thought everything went.
  2. Schedule further dates – this could be, say, every third Sunday afternoon or every other Thursday after school, or some particular dates you choose.
  3. Pass these to us and we will do the required paperwork with the council and print out the notification leaflets and signs.

 

For all sorts advice and ideas for playing out, see Playing Out’s Useful Stuff.

Welcome to Play.Meet.Street North Tyneside

For a few years now, neighbours and friends across the UK have been working together to close their streets, for a few hours every few weeks, and allow children to play out and adults to meet and chat. If you’re wondering why you might want to do this, have a look here.

Street play has been championed by a bunch of Bristol residents organised around Playing Out and has been spreading throughout the UK. In North Tyneside, House of Objects have led the way with the North Tyneside Street Play Project.

With enormous thanks to Emma and Diane, who have worked so hard on this and supported us in our own efforts to play out in our own streets, we – Lynsey, Jane and Alison – are taking on the challenge of street play in North Tyneside.

The three of us have been organising street play sessions on our own streets (in Cullercoats, Whitley Bay and North Shields) since 2015 and are very keen to support others who want to do the same.

There are now 26 streets across North Tyneside that have closed for play at some point over the last three years. Most of these streets close once a month, with many having dozens of street play sessions under their belts.

Much more information and regular updates are available on our Facebook page – please follow us there if you’re interested. And you can follow us on Twitter too.

If you’d like to talk to us about closing your own street for playing and meeting, have a look at this post and email playmeetstreetnt@gmail.com – one of us will get back to you

If you have any concerns or questions, please email us or complete the feedback form here.