Update from South Gloucestershire Playscheme
At Patchway Town Council’s meeting in February, the Council invited South Gloucestershire Playscheme to provide an update on the work that they were doing in Patchway. Ternaya Cummings, the director of the playscheme attended the meeting and delivered the presentation to the Town Council. The Council gave a grant of £4000 to South Gloucestershire Playscheme for the work they were doing and were pleased to see how effectively their grant was used. We are pleased to share their work below:
We are now in our 24th year of the Playscheme and we became a registered charity in May 2021. We have changed our name to better reflect the area we work in, and to recognise how we have expanded from the four areas we originally worked in. We are now called South Gloucestershire playscheme (formerly Four Towns Play Association).
Our aims are to provide learning through play to help maintain education levels in a fun and friendly environment, and to also give parents a break. The playscheme provides a safe environment for children to experience a range of activities such as arts and crafts, sports, team games and performing arts. Our sessions are free to access to ensure we are inclusive.
Due to the pandemic, we changed how we deliver our playscheme. This came about due to a high number of families struggling financially due to being furloughed, being made redundant or unable to secure paid work. This also meant that there was additional strain on family relationships due to lockdowns and isolation. Many families were already struggling with school holidays and having to provide their children with food, but with the pandemic many schools shut and turned to online teaching. This meant that there was even more pressure on families, especially those on low incomes. The changes we made were to only deliver 1 session per day (due to the enhanced cleaning regime needed). The session was extended to 4 hours per day (historically 2 x 2-hour sessions per day). We also added in providing lunch for children. During Easter and Summer, we provided a packed lunch for each child.
During October half term we provided families with breakfast bars, snacks and fruit. Christmas, we provided hot meals daily at each location.
This year we have delivered a whopping 172 sessions across South Gloucestershire.
Easter: - Patchway, Bradley Stoke, Kingswood & Yate – 5 sessions in each location for 1 week = 20 sessions.
Summer: - Patchway, Bradley Stoke, Stoke Gifford/Little Stoke, Yate, Kingswood and Severn Beach. We delivered 5 sessions a week in each location for 4 weeks = 120 sessions.
Halloween: - Patchway & Yate. We delivered 2 sessions per day in each location for 5 days = 20 sessions.
Christmas: - Patchway, Yate & Kingswood. We delivered 4 sessions per location (1 per day) = 12 sessions.
We have had 1593 different children and 159 adults (Halloween activities – 85 adults from Patchway) attend our scheme during 2021. This equates to 5661 attendances to our playscheme which is our highest number ever. Children attended the playscheme from 48 different areas and came from 92 different schools.
32.6% of all children attending were from BAME families. There was however fluctuation across locations and areas children attended from.
This year we had our highest number of children attending with additional needs (over 160). This year we have seen not only a huge rise in the numbers with additional needs but also in the level of needs for these children. In each location we had a range of sensory equipment which included a ‘a pop-up tent as a safe space for a calming time out, a range of sensory fiddle toys, and ear defenders for those who struggled with noise levels. Many of these children attended on a regular basis which helped those who need to follow a routine, and in several locations, we regularly had 8-10 children with additional needs per day.
Due to having repeated disruptions and restrictions to their schooling a high number of children appeared to behind in their development – socially, emotionally and educationally. This was noted across all ages and was particularly obvious in the 5-6 year olds.
14 of our staff have worked for us previously (many of these staff return year after year) which is a testament to how much they enjoy their work and how they are valued as employees.
This year we celebrated 10 years of working on the play scheme for 2 members of staff, one of these was the Director, Ternaya Cummings, who started off as the coordinator all those years ago.
This summer we had 2 regular volunteers both of whom had volunteered for us previously and this was their third year of volunteering. It has been great to see their development over this time, and they have both been a huge help to the team they worked with. We also had 7 volunteers who helped by collecting the food and delivering it to the different locations This was a massive help to the play leaders who also had to collect equipment for their location for the week.
All staff attended training prior to each of the schemes starting. The training was delivered by Ternaya, with support from the manager, Barbara, and coordinator, Ruth.
Our training includes working with SEN children, safeguarding procedures, health and safety, and expectations. We also have time for team building and session planning.
The leaders all undertook online food hygiene training. In most teams at least one other member of staff also held a food hygiene certificate which meant they could help if needed. At least 1 member of staff from each team undertook paediatric first aid training online.
This year we were able to secure the Fire Brigade to come to 2 locations to deliver fun, educational, and interactive sessions. The children loved getting to try out the hose, try on uniforms and learn about the fire engines.
Notivate (an organisation that helps children write and perform their own songs) attended all locations and each location created and performed a song. The children in all locations engaged well and produced some fantastic songs. You can hear them here: https://soundcloud.com/user-942435979/sets/south-gloucestershire-playscheme
Same Same but Different visited all the locations for interactive games, drama and singing. The games were energetic and the children had lots of fun.
Bristolian Productions visited all the locations with their production of Hansel and Gretel, and Jack and The Beanstalk, which was enjoyed by all. The children loved how interactive the pantos were.
South Gloucestershire Libraries visited both our Severn Beach and Yate locations in the summer to promote and help children take part in the summer reading challenge. The visits consisted of arts and crafts as well as story time which counted towards the reading challenge. The library also provided craft packs for the other locations which were a huge hit with the children.
We are grateful for the support of our funders including Almondsbury Charity, Bradley Stoke Town Council, Patchway Town Council, Stoke Gifford Parish Council, The National Lottery Awards For Everyone, Quartet, Tesco’s bags of help, Yate Parish Council, South Gloucestershire Council via the Department for Education through the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, ASDA, Morrisons.
A big thank you to all who have supported the project in its development, funding, and direction – a fantastic year has been had by all who attended and worked on the scheme!
Barbara Ball and Ternaya Cummings