With 2020 becoming the year of the staycation there are plenty of safe and enjoyable places to visit across Medway.
With many families staying local this year, there is a whole host of activities suitable for children of all ages to enjoy. Whether it’s online Minecraft sessions with the Medway Council’s Youth Team, taking part in Medway Libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge, a trip to Rochester Castle or a picnic in one of Medway’s seven award-winning green parks – there’s something for everyone.
Rochester Castle, The Guildhall Museum and the Visitor Information Centre in Rochester (including Rochester Art Gallery) are open. New social distancing measures have been put in place to help protect staff and customers, including limiting the number of visitors at a time and accepting card payments only. The opening hours have also been revised and visitors are asked to check the new measures before arriving.
Before their visit to Medway’s heritage attractions children can make their own pirate finger puppet and their own castle, complete with a drawbridge, at home by downloading our easy to read instructions.
Sports centres, swimming lessons and sports camps
Whether you’re planning a staycation with a paddling pool in the garden and trips to the seaside or you’re venturing further afield, help your children become water safe with swimming lessons. Medway Sport Swim Academy are offering a five-week course which will run from Monday, 27 July until Sunday, 30 August at Medway Park and Strood Sports Centre, which has been designed in line with government Covid-19 guidelines. Find out more, and book.
Medway Park, in Gillingham, and Strood Sports Centre will reopen on Saturday, 25 July. The council is currently putting plans in place to reopen Hoo Sports Centre in August. Splashes Sports Centre in Rainham will remain closed for redevelopment. All sports centre members will be able to use Medway Park and Strood Sports Centre. Sessions must be booked in advance. Find out more.
Medway Sport is also running Mini Youth Sports camps at Medway Park and Strood Sports Centre’s Soccer Centre in August. Children aged seven to 12 can take part in morning and afternoon sessions. The activities will be designed to allow children within each group to maintain social distancing as much as possible and all equipment will be cleaned before every session, and will not be shared between groups. Costs £15 per half-day session. Medway Sport Premier Members receive a 30 per cent discount. Find out more, and book.
Parks and green spaces
Did you know that Medway has nearly 100 play areas for children to enjoy? Play equipment has been reopened in line with the easing of government restrictions but residents are asked to take extra measures if they are using the facilities. Please do not eat or drink inside play areas and remember to bring your own hand sanitiser to clean children’s hands before and after play.
Medway also has seven award winning parks Capstone Farm Country Park, Riverside Country Park in Gillingham, Hillyfields Community Park in Gillingham, Great Lines Heritage Park in Gillingham, Gillingham Park, Broomhill Park in Strood and The Vines in Rochester are all Green Flag accredited parks.
Snodhurst Bottom pitch and putt in Walderslade Road is open from 10am to 9pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 9pm on Saturday and Sunday, with last entry at 7.30pm. There are some changes to ensure the safety of both customers and staff. Social distancing will be in place, only card payments will be accepted and all equipment will be sanitised.
Online youth sessions
Medway Youth Service has organised a range of online group activities for young people aged 11 to 18 (and up to 25 for those with additional needs) including drawing, Minecraft, anime, media and filmmaking, Dungeons and Dragons style roleplaying games as well as general fun and games sessions. Each activity lasts between 30 to 40 minutes and can be accessed on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Young people can also book an individual session with youth workers. They can be booked for information and advice, support or just to chat and catch up. There will always be two youth workers on each call.
Free online children and family hub sessions
Medway Council’s children and family hubs are offering a range of free online sessions this summer including baby bounce and rhyme, family song time, arts and crafts, story time, school readiness and one-on-one support sessions with a variety of professionals who will cover a range of topics, including public health. Find out more.
Summer Reading Challenge
Children are being invited to make friends with a group of animals for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.
Children aged four to 12 can join The Silly Squad, a team of animal friends who love to go on adventures and get stuck into different kinds of funny books. Parents and guardians can register their children online and set their own challenge to complete this summer. They can choose their own avatar, keep track on their books and unlock rewards along the way. Sign up now.
Medway Libraries has a growing collection of children’s eBooks to help children with the challenge and residents can use the new click & collect service to reserve books for collection at Medway’s reopened community hubs. If you’re not already a member of Medway libraries you can join online and borrow eBooks immediately.
NHS Test and trace
Visitors to council attractions across Medway will be asked to supply their name, email, phone number and postcode. These details will be kept for 21 days and will be handed to the National Test and Trace system if needed, as part of the government’s response to stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
Supporting our aspiration to become a Child-Friendly City
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “There are plenty of places across Medway for families to explore during the summer holidays. Our heritage attractions such as Rochester Castle and The Guildhall Museum are open and Medway has the equivalent of 13.3 Hyde Parks under the council’s direct management, with seven picturesque Green Flag accredited parks to enjoy. There’s also plenty of activities to enjoy including online Minecraft sessions, a LEGO club and the Summer Reading Challenge. Our summer in Medway activities support our aspiration to become a Child-Friendly City, putting Medway’s young people at the centre of everything we do. We are committed to providing children and young people with opportunities and offering them a great choice of facilities and activities to enjoy.
“Many of Medway’s attractions will be asking visitors for their name, phone number and postcode which will be kept for 21 days and passed on to the NHS Test and Trace service, if needed. Although we want residents and visitors to have fun this summer and enjoy all Medway has to offer, we all have a part to play to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and I would encourage everyone to continue to observe social distancing guidelines and follow government advice.”
Have a fun, and safe, summer
Cllr Josie Iles, Medway Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services said: “Children are at the heart of everything we do and I am pleased that there is so much for them to enjoy over the summer holidays. Medway’s children and young people have adapted incredibly well to the changes they faced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and we will continue to offer them our support over the summer. Not only can young people enjoy a range of fun sessions with our Youth Team but they can also book individual sessions with youth workers for any advice and guidance they may need, as well as for a catch up. I am also pleased that we will be offering online children and family sessions such as our popular baby bounce and rhyme class. I wish all of our young people a fun, and safe, summer. We are committed to ensuring every child in Medway has the opportunity to thrive, remain healthy and learn well.”