A fun-filled and active summer

Read all about our jam-packed summer programme, from family roadshows to collective sessions.

Tell us about Go Play

Go Play provides a space for children to play freely away from technology. We focus on activities that foster creativity and develop motor skills, as well as teaching fundamental life skills such as sharing and playing together.

All of our sessions and events are free of charge and open to all. Based in West Bromwich and funded by Sandwell Council, we’re passionate about the local community and making sure that access is easy for them. We usually hold our events in local green spaces, libraries and other community facilities for children to come and play.

How was the summer for the Go Play team?

It was an amazing summer for us, we can’t believe how much we managed to pack into a few months! Our summer activities usually start BIG and this year was no exception.

Our regular pop-up play was extended for the summer. So that some of the younger children wouldn’t be overwhelmed, we created a familiar space by keeping some of the activities that we use throughout the year. However, we also made it different by adding others, including giant versions of popular games like massive Snakes & Ladders and Connect Four, as well as larger games that the whole family could enjoy. This opened up curious minds, encouraging the children and young people (and sometimes adults!) to join in and discover something new.

Young person playing inflatable darts

Arts and crafts are always a big part of our events and extremely popular with the young people. We have themes but ultimately it’s about giving children the freedom to create what they want to. One of our themes was the Commonwealth Games, giving the children the opportunity to learn more about the competition while making paper plate torches. We also celebrated the summer season by making paper flowers and nature drawings using leaves and sticks. A connection with nature is really important in a child’s development so we often look for ways to inspire children through activities that include it.

Young person taking part in an art project at Go Play's summer event

We switched our playground sessions slightly when it came to the chalk drawings. Usually the team do the drawing but we decided to let the children make their own. This allowed us to connect more with them and their families. The children got to interact with each other, helping to boost their confidence and express themselves through drawing. It also gave us time to speak with parents and caregivers to tell them about who we are and how they can get more involved.

The Go Play Partnership Roadshow allowed children to learn the power of play. The aim was to provide a big, fun, free roadshow that covered each borough in Sandwell. The roadshows were filled with fun events including face painting, bouncy castles, delicious sweets, arts and crafts, family games and mini sports.

Young person taking part in soft archery

Child playing with large plastic dominoes

We were really excited to launch our Go Play Collective. Meeting once a week, this group of regular participants come together to discuss topics that are important to them, and share their ideas and suggestions. Subjects included climate change, the environment, water pollution and endangered animals. It’s a great opportunity for children to learn more about the environment in their area and how they can help their local community through social actions.

The Collective sessions also gave the children the opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions for what they would like to see and do when they come to Go Play. This allowed the children to gain responsibility and take control. These sessions have been a huge success and beneficial to everyone involved.

Did one event in particular stand out?

With so many activities it’s hard to pinpoint just one! We had great engagement from families and the sessions were well attended. Many families expressed how grateful they were to be able to attend free play services during the summer as they couldn’t afford to attend others.

It’s rewarding to see the impact we had through the HAF (Holidays Activities Food) programme. Through the partnership we were able to provide lunches throughout summer to children who may not be eligible for free school meals and ensured all children were still being fed. We worked well together, connecting with families and building relationships that had been lost due to COVID-19.

Did anything unexpected happen?

Our session in Marl Hole Park, West Bromwich is one of our most popular after school sessions and we were unsure of how it would turn out during the summer holidays. It turned out to be one of our best attendances with almost 60 participants. This proved to us how much everyone enjoys the sessions and how worthwhile it is to all involved. We keep seeing people returning as well as new people joining up so the word is spreading!

What have you got planned for the future?

We want to build on the successes we had this summer and continue to provide fun, free and engaging sessions. We’ve listened closely to feedback from our Collective sessions and will be developing new community-based activities from that.