We arrived in Sweden yesterday, I have instantly felt the difference in equality. Just being on the train with the dads and prams, you felt the people owned their space whether a man or a woman, Somalian or Swedish. There was a strong presence of men and their children. As we drove to the house we were staying in, hosted by the very hospitable Gareth, we noticed the space that Lund had, most people living in flats meant that space was freed up on the ground. There was plenty of green space that was used by all people and design is always fully considered. People didn’t have to go far to play and socialise, so everybody walked or cycled. Families cycle, the roads are nearly empty.

We arrived at the beautiful house, settled in and started our first discussion. Themes that came up was:

-Disparity
-Media’s influence on society’s opinion of people in poverty
-Maintenance problems of school grounds creating new ways of using outdoor space
-Use of language when working with other professionals to get them on side with your practice
-Playwork as professional status, are we not taken seriously because we don’t need a degree to do our job well.

In Sweden, life is ‘Logam’, just-so, normal, just right. This means people don’t generally strive for more and flamboyancy isn’t encouraged. Swedish culture doesn’t demand people to be better and have more than they need. With the housing system, people that rent are on waiting lists so properties that come up available people will accept because they don’t want to wait. The properties are of good quality and are heated throughout so people never go cold and benefits provide enough so people don’t starve. There’s no feeling of segregation. Today we visited some flats that housed people from different backgrounds and on various incomes, everyone was on the same economic level. There was plenty of green space and playful spaces surrounding the blocks of flats so there was plenty of opportunity to meet other people and come together as a community. We visited playgrounds in Malmo which were integrated into public space and flowed between the spaces in the town, rather than a space being segregated and labelled as children’s space. The playgrounds consisted of sculptural features that pleased adults and children alike, alongside equipment that was aimed at the child’s curiosity using imaginative themes. At every opportunity of walking along the coast and through Malmo and Lund there are pockets of playful design and aesthetics have been a strong occurrence in design features. Its not just about basic function here, its important also that function extends to pleasing the eye and the soul which children will be of course, drawn to.

Lily

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