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Eric Street play space
PATH were contacted about potential funding from KerryGold, a dairy collective who wanted to give £20,000 to create a play space in an urban environment.
We knew East End Homes had spaces around estates where children could be playing and had worked with staff determined to make a difference to those neglected spaces and improve them for play so we contacted East End Homes and were sucessful in getting the funding.
Penny Wilson from PATH and Cathy Page from East End Homes started consultations and engagement with the residents around Eric Street in January 2010. They came up with plans to have a playful cow made out of oak to climb and sit on, a tree crown and seating. There would be planting and mounds to change the flat landscape with some raised beds and a tree, this was going to be a play space for children but one that didn't look like a traditional play space and one for all the community to enjoy.
Of course this process wasn't easy ''the soil is toxic!'' some people worried. Alot of the soil in Tower Hamlets is toxic, here the top soil was replaced and unless a child is going to dig down and eat a few tonnes of the soil there is no risk of toxic poisoning through playing there.
The police were concerned it would increase anti social behaviour, others were prehaps just scared of change. Children and most residents still wanted a garden and place to play.
The space was completed in April 2010 it has been well played on throughout all the seasons.
Visiting yesterday 18 months later there are 15 or so children out playing, playworkers have bought some extra things to do, the scaffolding netting hangs between the tree crown making swings and hammocks, paper flowers are being made, girls have made hats and rings and are singing a wedding march while walking towards the cow (apparently this is not the first time the cow has got wed) a small boy balances and swings from branches of the tree crown and parents sit or stand by the edges chatting.
These parents and children wanted to be Play Champions ''we want to show this has worked'' they said. See more stories from the Eric Street Play Champions on the Stories from Play Champions section.
A story by Eleanor Image about Eric Street. It is a 'Places' story
This story is related to East End Homes.