Eric Street Play Sessions.

November 18, 2010

We have run play sessions from here on about four previous occasions, and I have hung around this space a lot during the building process.

We had playworkers helping with consultations and with the launch of the space and some summer playdays.

I really wanted to make sure that the space continues to be as popular as it has been so far and make sure that the playability of it did not lapse. The estate is having increasing activity on the regeneration work and it seemed important that we continued to emphasize the message that the whole community will have to have some beautiful free space during –as well as after- this process.

I was delighted that HALC were able to make a grant to PATH to fund this work. So two playworkers will be working here every Wednesday throughout the winter and into the summer.

Although the area presents a few problems, the garden itself has not been the scene of dealing or anti social behaviour. In fact now there are fairy lights in the tree the visibility on this space is so good that it would be foolish to use it for illegal purposes. And indeed I found out last night that there are eyes on the space from all four sides, the curtains twitch constantly, some folks just pull the curtain wide and try to stare you out and lovely K , who shouted at us n the first day of the building works, now has her chair permanently angled to get a clear view of the garden and the entrance to the square as well as her telly.

So on this first session, it was a good idea for me to playwork it along with a colleague from the Play times Team. It is my intention to keep the local knowledge that this team has and build upon it shamelessly. They recognise and are recognised and are familiar with the geography of the area and of the people. However there were none of the team available yesterday so I borrowed another worker from the Playing out team and set off to meet him at Eric Street, (‘you cant miss it, there’s a cow there’.) I got there early because I wanted to see where the children came from on their way home from school and at what time.

Cathy from East End homes had already sent letters to all the families in the area announcing the start of these sessions. And after all the families and I had got to know each other fairly well over the last few months.

I took a lot of photos while I waited. I generally do. However this site pleases me and the last of the cabbages were looking great and there were some green tomatoes that I was tempted to steal to make chutney. The Japanese anemones looked fantastically fairy like and delicate in the freezing cold, in fact the planting in the borders of the gardens was looking good. Not at all municipal, very soft and colourful and domestic.

I waited a little longer. No playworker turned up.

I stuck a few ‘play’ flags in the ground and got some twilight shots of them. Still no colleague. Kicking myself for bad practice- it didn’t have his number in my phone, I started to try and trace him. By now I was feeling aggrieved and more than a little miffed. I wondered round a bit more, took photos of the fairy lights as they came on in the tree… then a text to say my colleague had been taken to hospital.

Shame faced at my own bad karma for being angry, I wrote a note to the children who might have turned up. Phoned in to the office saying I was leaving the session and with a few more photos and a fumbling cold fingered text message to East End Homes, I left.

We will try again next week. perhaps I will make some posters for the estate notice boards. Winter sessions are always a challenge, even when there are fairy lights to help you.