In December 2017 a group of regular members of the tea room, with the owners, created a small community group with an aim to promote and develop board and card gaming in the community as a way to:
- support the development of family life in Hartlepool
- support existing service providers
- support educational development
- alleviate the effects of social exclusion
- support the advancement of health and wellbeing
- develop social capital
- fundraise, so we can do the above.
Ever since tea@Hart formed in 2014 we knew there was a range of potential social, health and educational benefits to playing games. Families interact, friendships form, relationships are built, problems are solved and strategies developed in an informal, non-threatening environment. It didn’t take long until people looking for a safe space to socialise and meet new people found us. We have a vision to expand this kind of provision beyond the kind of work a business is able to create. Therefore ‘People’s Meeples’ exists to intentionally and strategically develop this work and begin engaging with other local service providers and funders to reach the full potential.
By January 2018 we hope to begin trialing ‘Autism Friendly’ events and support the tea room in achieving the ‘Autism friendly’ mark. This group will take on the organising of an International Tabletop Day event on 28th April in the town. And we are already beginning to liase with other local service providers to see how we can be best support existing provision for people suffering from the affects of social exclusion (for whatever reason).
At a community meeting in October we heard from members of the community who felt gaming was best suited to supporting: families; young people at risk of exclusion in schools; people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder; people with mental health issues that make socialising difficult; and people in outlying villages with few local services for young people and families.
The recent pandemic has paused out regular Autism Friendly nights – but we look forward to bringing them back soon!