After the success of our National Play Day celebrations on 7th August 2013 (see previous blog post) we decided to do an experiment using the kindly donated wooden Playhouse from Big Game Hunters. It was so lovely seeing the younger children enjoying playing outside together we wanted to leave it out and see what would happen. Many people were nervous that the playhouse would be stolen or damaged if we left it out for just one night.
Listening to these concerns we decided not to leave the playhouse in the cut through between Waterbeach road and Clementhorpe road because it’s not very overlooked. So, we carried the playhouse over to Wykeham Green. This was it’s first trial resting place in a bid to see what would happen…
At great excitement we discovered that the Playhouse WASN’T stolen or damaged overnight. This felt like a huge triumph which we hope will start to show people that maybe the community isn’t perhaps as ‘bad’ as people think or fear. In fact the playhouse remained on the Green for a whole two weeks and when it was removed this was by us and because of other factors.
One of the reasons we put the Playhouse on the Green as a trial was to see what would happen, many people have told us they feel frustrated with the young people who play football at one end of the green, worrying about their safety next to the road and wondering why they don’t play in Parsloe’s Park just over the road. The football games mean it’s not very inviting for other residents, especially younger children to enjoy the space or play. After speaking with the football playing young people they told us that they don’t see they’re doing any harm as they welcome other residents to join them, stay in one part of the Green but prefer to not go over the Park as the goals have been taken away. They liked the idea of the Playhouse as it could give younger children a place to play away from their game.
Testing this Playhouse has shown us that actually no young children were really interested in playing on the Green, which may or may not be related to the older kids playing. In fact, the playhouse ended up being used by the older kids in bad weather as a shelter. In the second week of the Playhouse on the Green it was starting to be vandalised and residents were telling us people weren’t happy and it wasn’t being enjoyed by small children – the age group it was meant to attract. Therefore we’ve removed the playhouse and it will be delivered to it’s new home at the Becontree Children’s Centre shortly, after a bit of repair. This will mean it can be kept in a good home and enjoyed by as many children as possible.
The spirit of DIY Porter’s Lodge is all about trying things out and seeing what happens. If people are unhappy about something then we can see that it hasn’t worked and learn from what’s happened – before we start making more permanent changes. Hopefully, in doing this we can come up with solutions that work for as many people as possible and try out lots of innovative solutions in the process.