University of Northampton releases study evaluating success of the Northampton Play Streets project

Date 16.11.2015

Academics from the University of Northampton have released a report evaluating the success of the Northampton Play Streets Project 2013, a play scheme in Spring Boroughs which has given children a safe place to play near their homes.

The project is managed by University of Northampton alumnus Christopher Serbyn who works as a Play Development Worker for Northampton Leisure Trust. Northampton Play Streets 2013 secured funding from a Northamptonshire County Council Community Action Grant and provided free outdoor play sessions for children living in the area of Spring Boroughs, which was chosen for the pilot scheme because the area lacks easy access to parks or open spaces.

The evaluation by the University of Northampton incorporated 216 questionnaire surveys and 25 interviews with local residents, parents, carers and children who attended Play Streets. The study found that children who attended the project were overwhelmingly positive about the experience, enjoying the eclectic mix of activities and the opportunity to play outside freely and safely. Although some residents said they were not aware of the Play Streets project during the scheme, once they learned of it most said they would like to see opportunities continue for children to play out in Spring Boroughs. Many residents, parents and carers who responded to the study said that Play Streets had made a positive difference to their community.

Dr Jane Murray praised the hard work and dedication of the Northampton Play Streets research team – Dr John Horton, Dr Cristina Devecchi and University of Northampton student Celestina Berlingieri – and commented: “It was a pleasure to work with everyone involved in the Northampton Play Streets research which provided robust evidence to demonstrate the value of the Play Streets project for Spring Boroughs’ children’s well-being and wider community cohesion in their neighbourhood. We are currently engaged in writing up the research for an international academic journal and believe that the success of the evaluation demonstrates the commitment of Northampton Leisure Trust and the University of Northampton to working collaboratively to support positive change-making in our local community.”

A number of recommendations for Play Streets emerged from the data collated by the University, including the continuation of the scheme in Spring Boroughs and an extension of the scheme to other local communities where children have little opportunity to play out.  Enhancements to marketing and publicity for future projects were further recommendations, alongside consideration of some parents’ views that sheltered play spaces in bad weather might be beneficial.

“Play Streets presents a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together for something really positive and worthwhile. Creating an environment where children feel safe and encouraging children to play out, develops their own sense of identity within their community. We have been delighted that our partnership with the University of Northampton has produced this report. A study such as this one is extremely beneficial, not only demonstrating the positive impact that a project such as this one can have, but also helping us shaping our service in the future.”(Chris Serbyn – Play and Leisure Development Officer – Northampton Leisure Trust)

The University of Northampton’s pro bono work for Northampton Play Streets 2013 demonstrates the University’s significant commitment to promoting social collaboration and innovation in order to impact positively on social change.

For further details, visit the University of Northampton’s Research Support Hub

Find out more about the project and what is happening nationally