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.
Before you can hold a playing out session you need to:
- Contact us by emailing email@example.com.
- Read this page and the information booklet written by Playing Out Bristol and have a look at their website.
- Invite your neighbours to a meeting to talk about about what you would like to do.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
When you’ve got a date:
- Deliver a notice with the date and time of the playing out session to your neighbours.
- Put up notice of road closure signs on lampposts.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Play out, meet and have fun!
- If there are any issues, please contact us, or ask those concerned to do so directly.
- Share some photos of the fun on our Facebook page.
- Talk to your neighbours to see how they thought everything went.
- Schedule further dates – this could be, say, every third Sunday afternoon or every other Thursday after school, or some particular dates you choose.
- 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.
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 streets (in Cullercoats, Whitley Bay and North Shields) for over a year and are very keen to support others who want to do the same. We’re just beginning but hope to really get this going over the coming months and years.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org – one of us will get back to you
If you have any concerns or questions, please email us or complete the feedback form here.