Creative Homes – more play less stress

| Helen Sharp

“Let me introduce you to the tooth fairy, the toilet sailor, play inspector and creative chefs…”

When it comes to writing case studies for the Ideas Hub, I have realised that I often want to, and do start with the words ‘this is a simple idea’ or ‘this isn’t rocket science.’ I’m beginning to wonder whether we’ve had a tendency to over-complicate things.

So, here’s another simple idea put into practice. Creative Homes use play facilitated by live artists to help families identify and manage areas of stress in their lives. The entire project was co-designed with practitioners and families and I wonder whether this in part explains the simplicity. Creative Homes also continue to adapt the programme as they meet more families in different areas and learn and reflect on their practice.

So how does it work? The family is identified through referral or door knocking – much of their work is done in partnership with Housing Associations – and it starts with the live artist visiting the family and doing a play consultation in the home. In other words they build a cardboard den with the family members and work out, as they build, where the areas of stress are. This can range from toilet training to lack of space and Creative Homes have a character for each one: let me introduce you to the tooth fairy, the toilet sailor, play inspector and creative chefs. Each live actor is dressed up in character and importantly, comes into the home to work with the family on whichever issue exists for them.

Using play, they encourage the families to use what resources they have around them both in the house and outside. This in turn encourages them to use outdoor space and Creative Homes help the family develop more networks within their community by organising outdoor groups and community events. As well as a series of visits, each family receives a weekly craft pack delivered to their door and introductions to other services if they’re needed.

Creative Homes have achieved amazing results with such a simple idea – children love it, parents love it. Who’d have thought? Children and play? Wonderful!

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