Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


What we are applying for: We would like to significantly enhance our adventure playground environment by installing a soft play zone within our indoor play barn. By doing so, we hope to 1.) Enhance the sites inclusivity for disabled children and early years users. 2.) Make Sycamore Adventure more attractive as an all year round facility, providing greater indoor use during autumn, winter and spring when attendance significantly reduces. 3.) Enhance the play offer at the adventure playground, with a new indoor zone which provides a dedicated space for early years users and disabled children. 4.) Support the adventure playground to become sustainable, with greater use and income in cold weather, increased party use and new bookings from nurseries and early years groups.

Who we are: Sycamore Adventure is an award winning adventure playground situated in an area of significant deprivation in Dudley Borough. We provide world class play facilities, somewhere where children can be free, a space where play is prioritised and where adults advocate children's right to play. Sycamore Adventure provides a holistic environment where children can experience independence, excitement, nurture, self-exploration, social interaction with their peers, feel safe and follow their own interests, in their own time, for their own reasons; impacting positively on children’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing. Much of our development focus has been on our two acre outdoor playground and the building is in need of being developed. Indoor soft play would make the building more appealing to disabled children and early years users and as such improve inclusion on site.

How we are used: 23,000 children visited in 2016, 42% of these children come from areas of significant deprivation (the top 10% on the Indices of childhood deprivation), 16% of users have disabilities. We are used by families across the West Midlands and have had visitors from as far afield as Amsterdam. We work with children aged from 0-16 years of age. Despite financial pressure, we remain a free service for the community. Soft play centres cost on average £4 per child, so they are a facility which can be too expensive for many of the families with whom we work. For local families who do not have transport, there are no soft play centres within walking distance, so installing one at the adventure playground will provide an affordable and accessible solution.

Our sustainability: Business case development has seen the service go from being 100% funded, to needing to generate 70% of its income independently. The service uses a social enterprise model in which a series of charged services offset the cost of our public play sessions, (including school trips, children's parties, cafe, fundraising). Our ability to do so has required resilience and resourcefulness (in difficult financial times for play settings nationally). Sycamore Adventure is thought of as an outdoor setting despite having a play barn. This means that our usage has become very weather dependant. We believe that installing a soft play area and enhancing our indoor play offer will encourage use and income throughout the year which will support our goal of becoming sustainable.

Volunteering on site: Sycamore Adventure has a strong volunteering ethos with volunteers supporting Playwork, horticulture, fundraising and decision making on site, significantly enhancing quality of service & reducing annual running costs. Many of our volunteers have gained Playwork qualifications, awards and progressed into paid work. On average, 60 hours of volunteer activity takes place each week which equates to £27,600 support in kind annually. We will increase volunteering on site to support supervision of the new indoor playzone. We will also engage local businesses to help us to install the soft play equipment.

Funding will help to enhance our play offer, increase inclusion and support sustainability for local families.

Project Video

Friends of Sycamore Adventure

Moment of Pride

Sycamore Adventure is an amazing community resource, much loved by the children and families that use it. We have hundreds of reviews and mantain a 4.9 / 5 star rating on Facebook / Trip advisor / our website. Just one example is from an annonymous child who wrote "Sycamore is my favorite place".

Location: Dudley