Play Streets

Dates for 2015 are currently being finalised and will be posted soon.


2014 Dates:

Southdown Avenue between Grantham and Rugby Roads

Fridays 15.15-18.15 (light and weather permitting):

2 May, 13 June, 11 July, 26 Sept, 24 Oct.

Southdown Avenue between Springfield and Florence Roads

Fridays at the same times:

16 May, 27 June, 12 Sept, 10 Oct.

Plus Christmas special 14.00-16.00 Sunday 7 Dec.

We need volunteers to help with organisation and stewarding, if you would like to be involved  please contact Val Knight  – 01273 506939,, Jenny Staff – or Sally Trelford –

Statistics tell us that 75% of humans now live in urban areas. Urban areas are dominated by motor vehicles. Most of us have capitulated to the convenience of a personal car or two! Many will argue we have gained a lot from the use of vehicles but there are also many disadvantages:  pollution, concreting over massive swathes of countryside – loss of habitats -to create roads and service the car user, the injury and death sustained by millions of car users and animals throughout the world and the problems of mass storage of millions of cars when they are not actually travelling.

Perhaps the most insidious effect has been that which has befallen generations of children. Those of us who had childhoods in the 50’s and early 60’s can still remember Playing Out. It was then pretty safe to play out in the streets in front of your house with all the local kids, without the constant intervention of adults. We were often covered in scratches and bruises and some broke bones but there were advantages to risking these. It is now suggested by psychologists that children need to face challenges and invent their own solutions; face risks and make their own judgements as to what is acceptable risk and what is probably a step too far – if they are to become creative, problem solving, managing, confident, successful adults. Psychologists know that we learn social skills by trial and error in real contexts.  We learn to negotiate, organise, empathise etc. by ‘doing’, not by being told!  But gradually the opportunities for these experiences have diminished as cars have made our streets too dangerous to allow children to ‘play out’ relatively unsupervised .

Statistics do not show an increase in ‘stranger danger’ over the same period – though the media ensures that when it occurs it is in our face day after day, which has increased fear of such events. Toe-to-tail parked cars have denied children space to kick a ball or roller skate, ride trikes, bikes and scooters or play communal games or just hang out with friends on the street near their homes. The development of indoor electronic or constantly adult micro-managed activities have grown up to fill the gap.  According to teachers,  medical profession, social workers, police and employers every aspect of children’s well–being and broader education has declined – social skills, problem solving, creativity and physical health have all been the losers.

What are we doing about it?

A sub-group of the  local residents association SRRA, has got together and following in the footsteps of other parts of Great Britain – Bristol, London, Worthing to name but three, successfully reclaimed some  local streets,  allowing children to Play Out. The Council agreed the road closures and the first events were held on two blocks of Southdown Avenue, they were very successful and we are holding more during the current year. We want our children to have the opportunity to get to know each other, be recognised by neighbours, play children–led games, to develop  pride in their own neighbourhood and get some physical activity and fresh. And what’s more, the experience from areas that have already moved in this direction has shown that the wider community, across generations, frequently develops links and benefits too. We are not attempting to set up an adult managed play scheme with all the liability that would involve. We simply want to facilitate making small areas of streets car-safe for local children to Play Out.

Please see these websites for information about existing schemes elsewhere:

Follow us on Twitter – @SouthdownRise


1 thought on “Play Streets

  1. Andy Briggs

    Although we only caught the last half an hour, it was plain to see that today’s event was a success. Well done all involved.

    A minor drawback with kneeling in the road to draw chalk pictures seems to be the surface of road itself. Are there other parents out there wondering how to remove tar from clothes? Wonder no longer: WD40. It sounds like one of those daft tips you find on the internet – and so it is – but I’ve found it works very well.

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