Sutcliffe Play has introduced SNUG, a mobile play resource into the bare market square in Neston transforming it into a colourful and exciting free play facility for children and young people.
Following the construction of a Sainsbury’s Supermarket, Section 106 funding was made available in Neston resulting in the publication of a Public Realm Design Guide which highlighted the need to develop the market square.
Sutcliffe Play approached Cheshire West and Chester Council and the local community group CAN (Community Activities in Neston), after hearing about their desire to make their new town square more child friendly and playable. They wanted to introduce a play facility into the market square that could be for community events but have the flexibility to remove it and store safely when not in use.
A pilot trial of the SNUG play equipment in 2011 highlighted how successful the kit could be for Neston’s market square.
Zaria Shreef, Project Manager at the CAN Group says: “I have been amazed at how children respond to the
SNUG play equipment. The colours, shapes and freeform design of the kit seem to be perfectly designed to appeal to young imaginations.
“Sometimes children need to be shown that they can move equipment however they want, but once they understand this there’s no limit to what they create – a giant turtle, a pirate ship, a desert island – it’s constantly surprising. The opportunities for teamwork and co-operation are also great, even among children who’ve never met before.
“It’s a great resource for conducting surveys because you have a captive audience with the parents as their children play.”
A survey was carried out with parents as children played with the trial kit and provided good evidence for an application for Rural Support Programme funding to enable the purchase of SNUG. The Rural Support fund provided half of the money, with the other half for the SNUG kit coming from the Section 106 money. Further funding for the CAN Group to manage the kit came from Neston Town Council.
SNUG has been used at various events to provide a safe, free play event. The CAN Group also use the kit on Saturdays on Neston market square so shoppers and their families can enjoy a free play facility. Volunteers help to set up and pack away the kit, which is stored in the council offices and the use of the kit to provide
play is combined with raising awareness of local community events and to conduct surveys into local matters.
Zaria concludes: “The SNUG kit has been a great success, and other community groups in the Neston and Parkgate area have begun to ask to borrow it for similar playdays.