Tag Archives: playbus

The busy season for Playwork is here!

8 Jun

Now that the Spring is finally here (fingers crossed that it stays) things in the Play world are hotting up!

Hackney Playbus in Millfields Park, Hackney

Hackney Playbus, where I work, is expecting it’s busiest summer for years, with free play sessions around East London planned on 6 or 7 days of the week all through the summer holidays! Children under 5 are welcome during term time and under 8 in school holidays. If you have children and live in East London have a look at the timetable and come along. You can also stay up to date with new sessions as they are announced by following  the Playbus on Twitter and liking the Facebook Page. Can’t wait to come to play? The Playbus will the at the Well Street Common Festival, (near north side of Victoria Park) on Sunday 9th June from 12noon.

 

Shoreditch Adventure Playground, Hackney.

I’m also working at an Adventure Playground in Hackney which is suddenly looking very beautiful and wild with wild flowers blooming and finches chattering in the trees. Adventure Playgrounds are fantastic urban play spaces. They are designed to compensate urban children for their lack of access to adult-free wild play spaces. You will find trained and experiences Play staff who are there to support play and assess risk vs benefits in these adventurous spaces. If you live in East London you probably aren’t far from your local Adventure Playground. There are more than 80 across London. If you have children and you’ve never been in, you should go and explore. Click here to see what Adventure Playgrounds are near you. They are usually open after school, on Saturdays and during school holidays. They are free and open access, meaning children are welcome to come and go as they please. 6 -16 year olds are welcome, along with under 5s with a carer. Get out there and explore!

Along side all this playing, the book making and creative work is taking a back seat for now, but I will be making whenever I can.

I’ll also be moving…to my 10th house in 9 years.

I hope you all get out and enjoy the beautiful weather!

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A week in the life of a Playworker/Maker: Tuesday

29 Feb

Tuesday morning I was up bright and early for the very indirect commute from Tower Hamlets to Walthamstow where the Playbus hosts a morning play session funded by the local children’s centre.

The parents and careers at this session are always there waiting for the bus, their children literally jumping up and down in excitment. This week was very busy with 15 under 5’s along to play. I was talking to one parent who lives the other side of Walthamstow where we used to have another session funded by another children’s centre. We haven’t got the funding to carry on there and as we finished up our work  they were under going some staffing cuts and reshuffles that really affected their brilliant outreach and family support workers. Walthamstow, they told me, has seen a massive number of centre closures and cuts.

No front line cuts they keep saying. Every now and then they blab on about bridging the opportunity gap between the rich and poor. As if. East London has a desperate shortage of nursary places and its the kids from the more deprived areas who always miss out, their parents not being able to afford private care. Children’s centres have done a fantastic job of giving all children access to play sessions where they can explore and socialise with other children and where parents can meet each other, support each other and access all kinds of other services that they might well have missed out on otherwise (speach and language advice, legal advice, language classes). The playbus is used by the children’s centres to reach families who are less likely to go to the centres or access any services, as we can park right on their street and are an easy first place to come. For these kids to have a good start they need the space and opportunity to play. This government aren’t just taking these opportunities away in a short term sense, they are undoing the infrastructure that was only just beginning to make a difference.

Tuesdays session was lots of fun. We blew up baloons and all the kids loved chasing them around. Kids who, at the start of the session were very shy and clingy to their parents, were running around independently by the end. As the bus drives off there’s always a few tears but we will be back next week.

After packing away from the busy session, I had some time to kill. On Tuesdays I work on the bus in the morning and then at an adventure playground after school. A big gap but not big enough to go home and come out again. Thats what comes of working several jobs where each are just a few hours at a time. I went for lunch and tried to come up with some fundraising plans for the playbus. I’ve got a few ideas. Then, as the weather was so warm I headed to the park. Absolutly beautiful scattered with spring flowers and ducks.

Come 3.15pm I arrived at the playground which is especially for children and young people with disabilities and special needs. I’ve not been working there long and am still getting to know the other staff and the children. minibuses bring the children straight from their schools or their homes to the playground. Each member of staff is designated to work 1:1 with one of the children, so once you arrive and help get the place set up, it’s a waiting game for when your 1:1 arrives. The last few times my 1:1 hasn’t arrived and so I am on general duties. This has proved a great way to get to know the other staff. For example, if there is a young person who is known to take all of their clothes off, then I’m able to support the member of staff working 1:1 with that young person to help get them sorted and back out playing. I also relieve people if they need a break. Yesterday, when I relieved one member of staff I was launched into some wonderful imaginative outdoor play. The young person and I layed back on the grass and gazed at the sky which was slowly turning pink. There were tigers hiding out there, bees in the ground and spiders everywhere! (of the imaginary type). Later I joined in with the musical genious who was enjoying playing the keyboard at maximum volume, holding one key at a time. His eyes were closed and he rocked his head just like all the old blues greats. With his other hand he grabed a brightly coloured underella and moved it hypnotically to the durge, breaking into a big smile.

Before we knew it it was time to pack up and get on the minibuses to go home. After being an escort on one of the buses, I was finished for the day; back on the bus to Tower Hamlets.

In the evening, we made the most of the mild weather and planned to walk along the river to a pub in Wapping. Off we went. Every few yeards the pathway was blocked with locked gates. The water front here has been well and truely privatised. Where not so long ago where wharehouses and dockers pubs there’s now luxury developments and gated communities all claiming their own private chunk of the public right of way. In a crack between two houses were were lucky enough to discover an accessible bit of beach. The Thames is so beautiful and should be accesible to all.

 Then, as if some ominous threat, floating past on the river goes a boat pulling some giant olympic rings…as if we needed reminding. As if most people’s lives in London, especially east, haven’t been affected in some annoying way or other since they announced we were to host them. The people of East London knew or have quickly come to learn that these games are not for them and actually, if their lives get in the way of the plans to woo the worlds dignitaries it’ll be no contest who will win. All those I’ve spoken to are dreading the summer. Money has a way of ruining everything.

Making lines and breaking rules

22 Feb

I’ve fallen a bit behind with the blogging.

The life of a Playworker and maker is a busy one if you are hoping to actually be able to sustain it. I’ve now got three different Playwork jobs each with unpredictable sessional hours. As well as working on Hackney Playbus and 1:1 with a young teenager with Aspergers Syndrome, both of which I have done for nearly 2 years, I have just started working on an Adventure Playground of children with disabilities and special needs based in Hackney. It’s a fantastic and crazy place to work. I certainly can’t say I am ever bored at work.

I am really enjoying being around some amazing people with a brilliant playwork ethos; child-led, rule breaking, boundary pushing, based on the personality of the child not their diagnosis. It’s fantastic seeing the creative ways playworkers use to interact with the kids. For example, there is one child who enjoys going into a particular part of the soft-play area which makes it impossible to get them out and then taking all their cloths off. A team of staff are on hand to initiate all kinds of games that might possibly lead to this child deciding they are going to put their clothes on and come out. Some have included one staff member putting the clothes on and all other staff complementing them loudly on their excellent fashion sense, continuing a previous game of running from a tiger…which obviously requires getting dressed(!) and bursting into renditions of ABBA songs and inviting her to dance. Brilliant. Can you imagine how differently a school (for example) would deal with this kind of behaviour. I LOVE Playwork.

I’ve also been making notebooks and you can see my collection so far here in my Online Shop. Hopefully you’ll see a dramatic improvement in the picture quality of the books as I am learning more and more about how best to present things as well as getting to grips with my camera. I was chuffed recently to recieve a book order from Australia(!!) and wrapped it up like a present to post it. I got some really lovely feedback;

I received the notebook safe and sound. Thank you so much for asking. Its tucked away in a draw waiting for an upcoming trip to Thailand.. I always keep a journal when I am away somewhere. Kinda nice too look back on. Fill it with memories and what not. You did a really good job with it. Will be buying for you again.

Very exciting! I then got a lovely message from someone else on Etsy;

Hello, I absolutely LOVE your a5 notebooks. I’m wondering if you are able to do some with lined pages? I would use them as university books.  I’ve looked everywhere for good quality paper notebooks with interesting cover designs and these are the only ones I’ve found without going “status” moleskine. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Ooooo, how exciting is that! I’ve put off making lined books previously for the simple reason that…I don’t know where to get the lines from. Sounds stupid  I know, but to make an A5 lined notebook you need horizontally lined landscape A4 paper. Haveing looked before I knew I couldn’t buy it anywhere so I drew then lines myself. Here is my first lined notebook (click on the picture to see the inside);

The lines inside are a bit too dark so I’m working on making them more faint before I make more but whatch out for this space if you’re more into lines.

Right. I’m off to enjoy my first proper day off for 14 days after an action packed half term.

 

Autumn play

4 Nov

Exciting play and print!

27 May

Yesterday I worked voluntarily for the day on the Hackney Play Bus, facilitating free play sessions for the under 5’s. In the morning we were in North Millfields Park. I’ve never been there it was a beautiful space. After a short drive and a short break we were then at Gilpin Square on the Clapton Park Estate. I had a really lovely time. Thanks to the staff of the play bus and all the visiting children, parents and carers. I’ve got some more Play Bus work coming up so I look forward to more fun and silliness soon!

I’m also happy to have discovered the East London Printmakers Studios, just down the road from me on Mare Street. I’ve been teaching myself screen printing based on some that I did about 6 years ago. It’s been going pretty well but I’m really excited about getting myself along to a few workshops and picking up some techniques. They’ve also got an open access studio. All very exciting!