Children need time and space to play, in a place where they are free from sustained fear for their own safety, physically comfortable and sheltered from sources of sustained social and emotional anxiety. They also need to be free from undue adult direction and implicit or explicit pressure to perform or behave in particular ways. All children require regular access to a context where these conditions are the norm to fully act on their right and need to play.
Playworkers are professionals who work to remove any barriers that might stop a child being able to play, and enrich their play experience. At Baltic Street, they work to create and sustain an environment which is full of opportunity, change and challenge, and introduce the children to possibilities, ideas and ways of doing things they might not otherwise have come across.
Baltic Street has two permanent playworkers, Robert and Alan, who are supported by a team of sessional workers, including a team from fellow play organisation, PEEK. Robert and Alan have been involved in Baltic Street since it started as a temporary play project in October 2013, and worked side-by-side in the early stages of establishing the organisation. They both grew up in the area, and undertook a year of on-the-job training before taking up their full roles. Robert wrote a blog about his experience of the year.
The play workers at Baltic Street take on roles which are specific to our site, the wider context we work in, their own personalities and the interests and needs of our community of children. The best way to find out more about them and what they do is drop in.
If you are interested in finding out more about play work in other contexts, we have shared some of the books, articles, websites and contacts we learnt from whilst developing the project in our research page, in the adults and children’s play section.