The Friends of Highfield Adventure Playground is a group formed out of the threat of the beloved community place closing down. The Adventure Playground in Sharrow pulls together families and children from all over Sharrow, and provides a space for them to come together and a safe haven for children to engage in adventurous play and take risks under the supervision and guidance of the staff that work there.
The first meeting of the friends took place in December 2012 at the Sharrow Primary School with around 15 parents and children participating in the meeting. The group gradually grew from there and was constituted in the early year of 2013.
One of the main things identified as the target of the group was to form a local campaign against the cuts that were planned for the playground, which essentially meant that the playground would no longer be staffed. The group took part in the Sheffield Early Years March on the Saturday 19th January, where the group kicked off their campaign and started collecting names for a petition to stop the staff from being pulled out of the playground.
The Friends were also good at using local resources and the skills within the group and asked one of the members to design a logo for the group! Looks great, doesn’t it!
The next step was for the group to start petitioning and collecting names to support their campaign. Over the next few weeks the campaign reached 2500 people who signed the petition and offered their support. The children using the playground were also actively engaged into the campaign efforts, and they were eagerly collecting names for their own petition as well as writing letters to the Sheffield City Council telling them why the Adventure Playground is important for the children of Sharrow.
The Friends did a great job reaching the community by petitioning in the streets, talking to people at the playground and most of all by doing what they do the best as local parents, organising a funday at the playground for the whole community! The Funday was a great success with everyone from the neighbourhood kids to the local Councillors and the MP for the area joining in on the fun and coming to see what this place is all about. More than 300 people joined in on the days activities and came to support the playground! In the dead of winter this is a pretty good turn-out I must say!
The Funday was a clear indication to the group that there are still a great deal of parents and children in the area who might not be fully aware of what is happening to the playground, and that they need to be informed about the threat of closure. This is why the need for a public meeting became increasingly more urgent. The date was set for the Wednesday 27th February and the venue was set for the Madina Mosque on Wolseley Road in Sharrow. The delivery of flyers was coordinated together with the local newspaper, Sharrow Today, that had kindly given the front page to the Friends of Adventures to write an article on their activities and what is happening at the playground.
The Public Meeting was participated by about 100 concerned members of the public to listen to the speeches and get an update of what is happening. Invited speakers included the Chair of the Adventure Playground group, Representative of the Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, and representatives from the Cabinet, Activity Sheffield and the Sheffield City Council. Local residents and other interested parties were able to ask questions and deliver their opinions about the planned changes. Both children and adults were active in the discussion.
The campaign continued through the spring time and great advances were made. The group also designed a new leaflet for the sharrow lantern carnival and joined the progression to engage with more local parents and concerned parties.
After the public meeting the Friends were able to secure a series of meetings and discussions with the city council and Activity Sheffield to decide on the number of staffing they could provide for the playground and at what times. The current opening hours were finalised at the end of April and contain some unstaffed open access hours in the beginning to offer more staffed hours for some of the older children using the playground.
- Tuesdays 3:30 – 7:30
- Thursday 3:30 – 7:30
- Saturday 12 – 6
As some of the equipment had to be taken down for health and safety reasons to prepare the playground for open access, one of the Friends was lamenting particularly over the loss of the rope swing. She decided to put on a fundraiser to raise money to replace the rope swing at the playground. The event took place on April 28th at Haggler’s Corner on Queens Road and gathered people for massages, yoga, arts&crafts etc. People came in quite a few numbers and the event managed to raise £600 toward the new rope swing!! Well done friends!!
At the end of April the Friends had some exciting news from JG Graves Trust that gave them £1000 toward staffing the playground! What brilliant news! Hopefully the money will be used to cover extra sessions over the summer holidays so that as many children as possible can enjoy the playground during their holidays! More funding bids are also put forward, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed!
On 11th May 2013 the Friends organised a funday at the playground, and fun was surely had! Despite the little rain, the activities such as willow making, painting bird houses, belly dancing, and general merriment was well attended. The cakes that were donated and sold were also beyond deliciousness!! Local businesses had donated a huge list of raffle prizes! Around £350 was raised toward new play equipment. The Community Organisers had a ballot for all participants to vote for how the group should use the money they fundraise. Both Kids and Adults could vote, and altogether 90 votes were cast. Here are the results:
Let’s hope all the best fro the Friends in their fundraising efforts, they sure have made a great start!! More news coming soon!