Local children in Bridgeton and Dalmarnock told us overwhelmingly about the importance of playing, and safe play places.
Through conversation and art activities in schools, children and young people told us about their dissatisfaction and unhappiness with the places available for them to play.
We’re committed to ensuring the voices of children and families inform and drive our actions, and we wanted to explore play spaces in more depth.
We asked children from a local primary school to lead us on walkabouts through their neighbourhood. Where did they play? How did they spend their free time? Most importantly, we wanted this to come from their perspective.
These walkabouts were crucial in the Children’s Neighbourhood area as they gave local children and young people an opportunity to share their experiences and to speak for themselves about their communities, their views on the current state of play facilities in their areas, and what they want from the spaces where they spend their free time.
Pictures and chat
The children, armed with cameras, walked us to where they played, told us what they liked, where they enjoyed spending time with friends, and what they wanted to see in their communities and why. During the walkabouts, we asked the children and young people questions about their communities and captured their responses to support the pictures they took and gain further insight into what they felt was important.
Some children have great opportunities for activity and imaginative play, with hills to hide behind, trees to climb, and safe places to ride their bikes and run around.
Other children, however, recognised that they played in unsafe and dangerous places. These areas were covered in broken glass and rubbish, or next to derelict land or busy roads. In these instances, young people felt their options were limited as to where they could go.
Different play opportunities
Children told us they want different play opportunities based on their age and where they lived. Some want areas for specific games and activities, such as football, basketball or cycling. Others would like more open, interesting landscapes to make up their own games, and others wanted safe places where they could hang out with their friends.
These walkabouts were crucial in the Children’s Neighbourhood area. They gave local children and young people an opportunity to share their experiences and to speak for themselves about their communities, their views on the current state of play facilities in their areas, and what they want from the spaces where they spend their free time. Children described, showed and told us first-hand what already exists and how it can be improved.
In response, we drew together what we learned from our walkabout sessions, the pictures the children created about where they play and the photos they took. We led a conversation based on this child-focused information with local neighbourhood partners, so that these concerns and insights from a child’s perspective can inform local activity, priorities and action.
Walking the Walk – designing your own walkabout
If you want to use a walkabout as a tool there are a few areas to consider when planning, undertaking and learning from your walkabout. We have included the suggestions below as a starting point:
Planning your Walkabout
- What is the purpose of your walkabout? What are the specific questions you want to answer through your walkabout?
- Who will be a part of / lead the walkabout?
- Have you taken account of issues relating to risk, consent and permission (including the completion of relevant local level processes and paperwork)?
- Where will your walkabout take place? Is this area known to participants?
- What specific information, perspectives, or even outcomes will be gathered during the walkabout?
- Whose perspective is the walkabout being undertaken from?
- How will your walkabout be documented / recorded and who will do this? How will the accompanying conversation be captured?
- Will a range of routes be used or the same route taken on a number of occasions?
Reflecting on your Walkabout
- What was learned from the walkabout (consider different participants’ perspectives)?
- Who are the partners and stakeholders that would benefit from this knowledge?
- What type of products / outputs will appeal to and engage partners and stakeholders?
- Where will you share products / outputs that you have developed from the walkabout?
- How will you use this information to inform local activities, priorities and actions and next steps?
If you’re after some further information, there’s also a blog about play walkabouts from 2018.
You can download the design your own walkabout questions here (pdf).
 Please note: it‘s assumed organisers will address local requirements/planning/risk assessments etc. for this type of activity.