Hibernation is over in Hounslow
06 March 2017 I London Play
HOUNSLOW: Spring has sprung in Isleworth with the borough's first play street of the year kicking off in style this weekend.
As the days get longer and daffodils emerge, Hounslow residents are being encouraged to venture out – just beyond their own front doors – to play in the street.
This weekend saw residents of Moreton Avenue in Isleworth stage their first ever play street – closing their road to through traffic for a few hours so that children could play out while adults swapped stories and cups of tea. Kids brought out scooters and bikes, played with chalks and enjoyed the novelty of playing on the road; and the hope is that it will become a regular event.
Moreton Avenue is the latest street to join a revolution that has been quietly building across the capital over recent years. Play streets are now running in around two thirds of London’s boroughs and Hounslow Council is keen for residents to enjoy the many benefits – including friendlier, safer neighbourhoods and more active, happy children. There are already a few play streets operating in Hounslow but the council hopes that seeing the Isleworth street in action will inspire more people to follow suit.
It is free and easy to apply, and Hounslow Council has funded the charity London Play to support residents through the process. And if any extra incentive was needed, London Play is giving away free ‘Play Starter Fun Packs’ including pavement chalks, beach balls, water pistols, buckets and beanbags to all new streets who apply before the end of April.
Councillor Foote, Cabinet Member for Communities, Hounslow Council, said: “Play streets are a great way for children to be more active and for neighbours to get to know one another better. That’s why we want to encourage as many Hounslow residents as possible to get involved. Many play street residents report that their streets feel safer, that they know more of their neighbours – and that their children are happier and more active, with friends next door.”
Moreton Avenue resident Salmah watched as her three children, aged 10, 8 and 5 tore past as part of a large group of kids immersed in a chasing-chalking game they’d invented. She said: “When I heard about the play street I was really happy, because I had the joy of playing on the street where I grew up and I wanted them to have the same thing.” Her 8 year old daughter stopped for long enough to tell us: “I like it because I can play with my sister and my friends on the street.”
One father out with his young son said that he had met many of his neighbours for the first time, despite having lived on the street for many years. “The children are desperate to get out and play, especially now that the weather is getting better. My son was asking to watch TV but when he saw this happening he changed his mind.”
Oscar, 9 had already spent the morning at his cycling club and had been looking forward to an afternoon of playing Minecraft indoors. Instead he spent two hours playing chase in the street with new friends.
London Play’s Hounslow play streets worker Barry O’Donovan said that play streets certainly give children the opportunity to be more active – but also have huge benefits for everyone who lives there. “People tell us that they have more friends in the street and neighbours look out for each other more,” he said. “For example we’ve heard about people organising a rota to bring food round for an elderly resident who’d just come out of hospital; or just doing a neighbour the simple courtesy of telling them they’ve left their car unlocked.”
Hounslow residents who want to make their streets more playful and friendly should contact Barry O’Donovan at London Play by phone 078 7937 232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Also please join the Hounslow Play Streets Facebook group to see all the action and join the conversation.