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Summer Play

Summer Play

What a great summer of community play we’ve had together. It’s amazing to see how much we like playing together in this community.

Community Play started last summer when Angela and Gill of Northern Heart and Soul, and also members of the community organising group, chatted with women in the Well Good Socials about what mattered to them. Lisa, Sam and Sandra wanted to do something so that children and families could enjoy the type of play they remembered enjoying in their youth. Laura wanted to make sure everyone was fed and watered too!

This summer we were able to do so much more because the community group applied to Awards for All to help fund the Playbox and to Brighter Boroughs. Northern Heart and Soul also applied for a bit of cash from the Council from the Holiday Activity Fund, which meant that everyone could play for free, and we could provide some lunches on some of the days.

It all started with a group of people who were interested in play getting together and doing some training, including First Aid. Brenda and Jayne and a couple of young people joined in.

The organisers, particularly Angela, were so excited on Friday 28th July when the Playbox arrived and took up its home for two weeks in Beech Hill Play Park.

And oh what fun we had together. It was amazing to see so many people want to play together. Children talked about what a happy atmosphere the park had, and, parents talked about how surprised they were that the older children joined in together. We really did have a good community play and it was great too to see Latics, Media Cubs and Remade CiC join us. Vera, a neighbour, needs a thank you for letting us fill up the water bottles. And, Joanne too, who joined us for week two. The children really enjoyed her company and den making skills.

Every day we had between 50-100 children, plus parents and carers. We’d have liked to open it more, if the weather and time had been on our side. Lots of children and adults have said they’d like to see a Playbox in the park for good. If you’re one of those, keep an eye out for invitations to put our heads together to see how we might make that happen.

And then community play moved to the other side of the community and we had a day at Diggle St Park and one at St Andrews School.

Again we were blown away by the number of community members who came to join in. We dotted 115 children’s hands as they passed through the inflatable assault course. Plus all the family members, many of whom had a great time skipping, launching egg rockets, flying paper planes and playing basketball.

At least 90 children came along to St Andrews School. We had to stop counting because it all became too busy! Who wants to count when there’s fun to be had! Latics joined us again at the school and a game of bingo was enjoyed by all with Bobby winning the Latics kit.

Sandra and Jayne from St Andrews, do so much organising for the community play. They are both always busy making resources, including a giant Ker Plunk and Lisa and Sam are extremely grateful for the mentor support from Sandra.

Thanks to St Andrews school for opening the doors to us and to Graham the caretaker for being such a great bloke. Thanks too to all of the people who helped out on the day. We also had Wendy, a Care Coordinator come along with colleagues, offering blood pressure checks to anyone who wanted one.

Then we had the UV Party at St Annes, who we’d like to thank for the use of the hall. They are so supportive of the community. We had 50 tickets for this and after a morning of crafts and lunch the children enjoyed an energetic party in the dark!

Everything that was offered over the summer was fully funded,and, so there was no cost to any family. We raised around £50 in donations, which will stay in the pot for October time.

Lots of people commented and said that having something free and local made such a difference when entertaining kids on a budget when times are tough. Lots of people enjoyed too that it was for families and families played together with other families. So many people said they made new friends, connected with old friends or had a chat with someone they’d seen but didn’t really know. What did you enjoy the most?

We’ve a lot to live up to next year, that’s for sure, and given the way it is growing we’re going to need more people involved! Perhaps the kids might like organise or be part of organising next years play? Maybe we have more adults with skills to share and time to give? Who knows, we might even have a Playbox?

How would you like to contribute?