Playing Out

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It's the mid summer holiday point for most families: three weeks down and three weeks to go. 

And depending on how your holiday is panning out, will influence whether that's too soon or too long!

Some parents might be revelling in the downtime: no rummaging for school uniform, early dash to school in the morning or searching the fridge for packed lunch items. 

Whilst others may be missing the daily routine, chats at the school gate or child-free cups of tea enjoyed in peace and quiet. 

Holiday times present all kinds of issues for different families but making sure your children are kept entertained and occupied presents challenges all of its own. Especially right now when money is tight and everyday living is proving increasingly expensive.

So what are the options if you're trying to keep the costs down and can't afford tickets to major attractions?

Maybe the answer lies on the street where you live.  Yet, many of us might be daunted by the idea of letting our children outside: a recent survey by the 4 national play agencies found that 40% of parents were reluctant to let their children play out due to "stranger danger" and fear of paedophiles. 

Parallel research revealed children aged from four to seven played outside less than four times a week and that more than half of children would like to play outside more often.  It can be a tough decision to make for parents as we may have concerns over the views of neighbours as well as other safety issues.

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'Playing Out' might just offer a solution to this dilemma:  the project that started out small in Bristol has become a nationwide initiative with neighbourhoods organising regular times for children to play together. 

Residents request a road closure for a couple of hours so children big and small can make best use of the traffic free space.  It's caught on in many communities as it's allowed neighbours to get to know one another better as well as providing some safe playing space to scoot, cycle, skip and chalk on the tarmac. 

It encourages outdoor play and more activity once school is over with the added bonus that communities come together too.  It becomes a real family time!

Seeing children enjoying their outdoor space might become a more common sight as new funding for street play has just been announced by the Dept of Health. 

Play England have £1.1m to encourage children and families to play together on their streets, reviving old favourites like hopscotch and hide-and-seek. This funding will enable Play England help residents close their roads from time to time to allow children and families to play out in a safer environment.

So for communities looking to build better relationships and a more supportive environment for all families and residents that's got to be good news!

You can learn more about 'Playing Out' on their website: http://playingout.net/ or visit their facebook page.

Research was undertaken by Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland.  Read more here.

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