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Children’s Fund and Big Lottery funding enabled us to build upon our experience as a grass-roots organisation to develop the nationally recognised, model of open access Community Playrangers. Sessions run all year round in parks and open spaces for children and young people aged 5–16 throughout Norton Radstock, Keynsham and some areas of Bath.
Community Play Rangers began in 2003 and have been working and playing with children and young people in areas of greatest socio-economic deprivation to;
- Encourage children to make more use of parks and open spaces
- Reduce children's fear of bullying
- Help children to feel that they have someone to listen to their needs and turn to for advice
Wansdyke Play Association now have three teams of two play rangers working in parks and outdoor public spaces working in Norton-Radstock, Peasedown-St-John and Keynsham are now funded by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
These operate on an ''open access'' principle meaning that children are free to come and go as they please as there is no registration is required. By being present in the park Community Play Rangers do their utmost to ensure children are kept safe yet at the same time provide opportunities for them to be challenged, take risks and have fun outdoors come rain or shine or even snow.
The project has over 300 children regularly attending the play sessions throughout the year. These children are learning social skills, being physically active and creative, being consulted and listened to and inputting into the planning and evaluation of the whole project.
The DEMOS report ‘People Make Play’(NCB 2010) highlights the role of adults in facilitating play using our project in Radstock as a case study. A recent Big Lottery Audit demonstrated that our projects have made a ‘significant contribution to the development of children and young people' and that they exceeded their targets by 50%.
Our participative approach to working with children and young people in their communities is recognised as valuable in promoting healthy lifestyles, supporting community development and intergenerational working. Offering access and choice to rural and isolated communities, our service has a recognised impact on the reduction of crime and antisocial behaviour and is significant in building stronger safer communities. Keynsham town council has recently identified that since our playrangers have been working in two parks in areas of significant deprivation they have saved in excess of £6000 a year in the cost of vandalism.