Before your first session
We offer lots of free resources to help your first and future play street sessions run as smoothly as possible. Here are the main things you need to do in the run up (two to four weeks) before your first session happens. Please download our handy checklist with fuller details: Preparing for your play street
- Contact Hackney Council to arrange delivery of ‘Road Closed’ signs and cones. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tell us as soon as you can, when your first session is taking place. We’ll try to make it along and provide a start-up pack including stewarding equipment.
- Let your neighbours know about it a week or two before it’s happening. See our flyer templates Or create your own design!
- Do a risk/benefit assessment including a street walkabout – adapt our risk/benefit assessment template
- Recruit neighbours to be stewards. You need two stewards at each closure point and one ‘floating’ steward in the middle, and many streets have two stewarding shifts.
- Read our Stewarding a play street guidance here so you know the drill and can confidently instruct stewards on the day. Email the guidance out to stewards a few days in advance of the play street along with a simple rota so they know when they are on duty.
- Make sure you sign up to our Hackney Playing Out Facebook group and the national Playing Out group for more inspiration and ideas, and to share tips and experiences with other people doing it in their streets.
Here’s some information on what needs to be done on the day itself:
On the day
- Hold a stewards briefing session 20 minutes before the road is due to close so that the volunteers can ask questions and are clear about their role, when and how the session ends. Hand out copies of Stewarding a play street, together with high vis and whistles. Talk through how risks will be managed.
- Do a street walkabout to check for any hazards (eg broken glass) which you should remove.
- Instruct stewards to shut the street at both ends simultaneously – and get ready for the fun to start!
- Be ready to assist stewards if they need it, and check in with them regularly. Keep an eye on the time, and remind stewards when to start giving people warnings before the session ends.
- There is no need to organise special games or activities for children. They will do it for themselves and will enjoy coming up with their own fun.
- Popular street play items are chalk, skipping ropes, hula hoops and soft balls, but also encourage children to bring out what they want.
- Tea always goes down well and you could think about having a few volunteer tea makers.
- Having a basic First Aid kit with plasters, wipes etc is a good idea.
- You could put up some bunting across the road or across the closure area to make it look more fun – also it helps deter fast cyclists.
You can also get support from Playing Out, the national organisation which pioneered the idea of road closures for play – known sometimes as ‘playing out sessions’ as well as play streets. The Playing Out manual is full of useful information and they also provide FAQs on the more detailed practicalities of running sessions, plus inspiration from the huge network of people involved in reclaiming streets for play, from across the UK and beyond.