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How Fountain House enjoyed the benefits of Streetplay

street play fountain house

Children from Leeds-based children’s home, Fountain House, enjoyed the benefits of closing the street for play before the coronavirus pandemic….something they hope to repeat.

Adults at Fountain House felt it would be beneficial for the children to play outside, to make new local friends, and be encouraged to assess their own risks, whilst also getting to know their neighbours. Residential Child Care Worker at Fountain House, Helen Simpson previously worked as a Play Co-ordinator, and worked closely with Leeds City Council to simplify the process around closing the residential streets for play.

Helen comments “The benefits of restricting vehicle access is manifold, and whilst playing on the street is by no means a good thing, it has been greatly reduced since the 1980’s. This is due to a combination of reasons: more cars on the roads, less time because of afterschool clubs and activities, a ‘cotton wool culture’ to keeping children safe, and the increase of computer games and social media.”

The young people at Fountain House promoted the closure of the road by helping post flyers with the date on through the letterboxes of the other homes on their street, and they applied to close the street for three hours.

Helen adds “On the day, everyone had a great time, observing as well as instigating play and encouraging relationships in a natural way between our young people and other children. They played on bikes, chalked their artwork on the road, played football and learnt new skills such as balancing and face-painting. I also invited the local PCSO’s as I know they consider it important to build positive relationships with residents, especially young people.”

The community around Fountain House is diverse, and the team were thrilled to have mums engage with them, providing henna designs and refreshments. Some elderly residents (but young at heart!) joined in the fun, ensuring that cars that came near our closure barrier understood why it was closed and turned around to use a different route.

Fountain House’s Registered Manager, Stacey Wagstaffe, said” The residential and clinical staff working that day really enjoyed themselves, and as a team we personally enjoyed seeing the freedom the boys had to enjoy unstructured play, explore their street, and develop interaction skills with all age groups.

The physical benefits are the ones most thought of when think of outdoor play, but mental health and wellbeing as they gain new friends, new skills and more confidence are just as important. The world outside our door is our young people’s world whilst they are with us, and it’s important that they feel part of the community, and that they have some ownership of their environment and that our neighbours know we are friendly and approachable!”


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