ASK a child a question and you can be sure of a straight answer! So, as the shouts of “brilliant”, “it’s fantastic” and “miles better” ring out across the newly refurbished Norley Hall Adventure Playground, Jill Lane can’t help but smile.
“They’re delighted with it, the community are delighted with it and so are we.” says play development officer Jill. “The feedback has been superb. It’s a great facility to get the children active and socialising with each other. When we found out that the money would be available to refurbish the site the first thing we did was ask the children and community what they wanted to see here and I think that has paid dividends – wonderful facilities that the community wants and uses.”
More than £250,000 has been spent refurbishing Norley Hall’s Adventure Playground but it’s part of a much wider investment programme happening right across the borough that is seeing more youngsters happier with their parks and play areas.
A survey by Tellus4 earlier in the year revealed that 52.7 per cent of children and young people in the borough are now satisfied with their parks and play areas compared with 38.9 per cent in 2008/09 – the largest improvement in the North West.
More than £2m is being invested in refurbishing play areas and this year all 28 earmarked for improvement will be completed following the government’s Play Pathfinder grant.
Mesnes Park’s multi-million pound refurbishment is also in full swing ensuring this “gem” of a Victorian Park for future generations to enjoy.
Debbie Freeman is the play and early years manager for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust who manage play areas and parks on behalf of Wigan Council.
She said: “Everyone is working tremendously hard to improve play and parks right across Wigan and Leigh. Local councillors, township forums and the Play Strategy Board within the Council are changing and improving play in communities by listening to what communities want out of their play areas.”
At Norley, the youngsters dart between pieces of equipment excitedly climbing, swinging and jumping. All the children are calling Jill by name as she chats. “The site is staffed most weekday nights and on Saturdays and that was very important when we asked parents what they wanted. Parents feel safer when staff are present and allows for more structured play sessions,” added Jill.
Norley Hall Adventure Playground has been on Lamberhead Road for more than two decades and as well as new equipment it now also boasts a cabin – installed following a grant of £29,000 from Norley Hall Tenants’ and Residents’ Group – where indoor play activity sessions can be organised.
To find out more about play in your area visit the Play pages of the WLCT website (external link)