Our final after school play session in Bishops Cleeve was last week. Bishops Cleeve Parish Council informed us that they would like to use their funding to do something different and have asked us to deliver community play days instead of our year round provision.
As the Lead Play Ranger for this community I have worked here from the beginning, it has been hard to sit down and think about no longer doing weekly play sessions in Bishops Cleeve because the children and families there have become a part of our lives and us a part of theirs.
We have been playing in their community for over 10 years and some children do not remember a time when Play Rangers were not a part of their lives, we have always been consistent adult role models in what for some is a chaotic world.
Twelve years ago we were asked by Bishops Cleeve Parish Council to come and deliver some evening Play Ranger sessions as they had trouble with anti-social behaviour. The teenagers hadn’t realised that their housing estate wide game of tag was causing concern for others and we were able to support their play needs in a more appropriate way whilst raising awareness of play for all ages.
Our relationship with the Parish Council continued as they asked us to support an area they thought would benefit from play and all the additional positive outcomes that happen when a community plays together.
Working alongside Sovereign Housing Association from the first new development off Sunrise Avenue we were asked to support the current community through play alongside supporting integration of the new families making Bishops Cleeve their home.
We have reflected on the many ups and downs that come with community work. Heart-breaking sessions when a child has shared the struggles they are going through, to others that were disrupted by family feuds. Occasionally, unacceptable behaviour meant Play Rangers coming on site as just themselves, with no playkit – behaviour then improved and the kit could return the following week. There have been glorious sessions of pure play where families have come together and shared the community space; groups of parents chatting whilst children played, teenagers playing with friends and supporting younger ones in their play.
All this is part of what a community is, and through it all, our team of Play Rangers have been able to support the children and their families through the ups and the downs; we thank you for accepting us into your community.
During our time in Bishops Cleeve we have worked on 6 different playing fields and in 1 of the Primary Schools, supported over 15 Young Volunteers, 2 of these have become Apprentice Play Rangers and both of these went on to become fully fledged Play Rangers, employed by us and becoming part of our PG Team.
The invaluable life skills and experiences have supported these young people to move on in their studies and working life which is amazing, we are proud of them and proud of our work in the community.
We have not gone; Bishops Cleeve Parish Council have asked us to deliver holiday Play Days with additional activities.
We will see everyone again; it just won’t be each week.
Please keep an eye out for our holiday play sessions and don’t forget to Get Out and Play!