It’s July 2013.
I’m with Elodie.
We are saying goodbye to families.
We’ve been working with them for 12 weeks running family creative play sessions.
Families leave smiling with the three little pig masks swinging in their hands, one little boy a firm grip on the wolf, clearly going home with him.
Claire, one mum asks, “when will you be back?”
I say, “ we’ve run out of funding, I’m applying for some more.”
“Okay she says, let me know.”
I sigh with Elodie as we pile up the cardboard city and the house of boxes. It doesn’t feel like it’s the end. “Why don’t we come back next week and visit a couple of families?” I say, “I want to know more. I want to know that what we do here has some kind of impact, that families can continue to play, make, cook, tell stories beyond here and into the rest of their lives.”
So the following week we found ourselves back on the estate knocking at a family door. Marie opens the door, the girls aged six and eight take the cardboard houses we had bought them back from the group session to keep onto the stairwell and play. Marie invites us in. Its a small flat for the three of them, the walls are sparse and no toys to be seen.
We asked Marie about the sessions:
“I’ve really enjoyed helping you “ Marie volunteered her time to help at the sessions, “it has been tough settling in to London life, having moved from the Ivory Coast as a single mum a couple of years back. I still feel very alone.”
The girls come back in and whilst we are chatting I can’t help smiling as one of the girls disappears behind the sofa and starts lining up her plastic bottle collection, “I’m saving them to make a Robot… It’s going to live in my house.”
Next we find ourselves on the tenth floor knocking at the door of Mohamed, dad of two boys, aged three and six. He invites us in. Their home is immaculate. In the hallway sits the youngest boy Sayid’s cardboard house and leaning against it a cardboard sword they made with us the week before.
“I’ve so enjoyed coming to the sessions with my boys, you’ve given me permission to play again and now I have a whole new relationship with my son.”
He takes us into the boy’s bedroom. There are hardly any toys around except for… the cardboard invention sitting with pride of place on the windowsill, a spyglass.
“Its amazing what you can see of London from the 10th floor, we play I spy” says Mohammed, “we made this together a few weeks back.”
As we finally leave the estate I say to Elodie, “wasn’t that worth seeing. Just imagine what families could achieve if we could work with them directly in their homes, in their space, to their rhythm.”
The following week our Chair sent us through a link: ‘A Call for Ideas – the Knee High Design Challenge.’
So we played, drew a picture and Creative Homes began.