Due to the bitter cold today, we finished the Burdett session at 5pm instead of 6pm, and are going to use the missing hour to make a longer session next week during half term.

There’s been lots of people out and about at this site, and quite a few children and young people stopping to play for short bursts of time, but because it’s been so cold people rarely stay for long, and between 5pm and 6pm children are rarely passing by, so the session feels very quiet. We feel this really is just about the seasons and the weather, because when it’s cold it really is hard to be outside for long stretches of time, and the one day when the temperature was higher we did have a lot more children stopping for longer. It is great to have the Community Centre there, who are being supportive and friendly, and having a full team on board means we can take turns going inside to warm- up for short bursts, which helps.

A mother and her three young children who stopped very briefly today said that they see us from their window across the road and think we’re brave to be out in the cold. I said they should come out and play when it gets a little warmer and she said they definitely would. I think this is the case for a lot of families, because there are so many who smile or say hello but don’t stop yet, so we anticipate that these sessions will get busy in the warmer months.

As for the other two sites we visit on Saturdays (which we started as a way of combining what used to be the old Tuesday and Thursday afternoons sessions) these are very quiet at the moment. The one in the morning in particular, where the session is from 11am-1pm, is often completely empty of children, while the afternoon (2pm-4pm) one often sees a few brave players come out of the woodwork. It is hard to know whether these low numbers are because of the cold, because it’s a Saturday, or in the case of the AM session because it’s too early in the day. It’s not the case that people are out and about doing other things (shopping etc) and simply not interested in playing, more the case that people just aren’t going out on the streets at all from what we can see!

Sometimes when we wait for children to show up, we play hopscotch amongst ourselves to keep warm. This can be a captivating game, suprisingly difficult, and it is interesting to witness the different characteristics (the ego, competitiveness, pride and schadenfreude for example) that come out in us as players, rather than playworkers.

For now we soldier on and wait to see when the winter hibernation will crack open into spring.