Bellingham Play Park voted ‘the most in need of love’

It’s Car Free Day this weekend

Children’s voices must be heard on Covid

Nowhere to play in New Cross

Road closed for fun! London’s Play Street craze

Lewisham approves five-year play strategy

Families urged to make play memories this summer

Play to lead London’s great reawakening

London Play calls for a ‘summer of play’

News Shopper 13 Mar 2024

A Lewisham park has been voted as the playground ‘most in need of love’ in London, by children’s charity London Play.

Bellingham Play Park, just off Selworthy Road, was voted as the London playground that need the most love.

The charity, alongside Lewisham Council, is working to give this park “the attention it deserves”.

For more on this story go to the News Shopper website.

London Play Press Releases
Bellingham Play Park, a local play area in Lewisham, has been voted playground ‘most in need of love’ in London Play's Valentine’s Day campaign.
Play news
Proximity to accessible greenspaces increases local social cohesion, according to a four city European study involving over 1,300 people.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

This weekend, dozens of residential streets in London will become temporary play areas, reports Londonist.

World Car Free Day 2023 is celebrated on 22 September across the world, but here in London we’re making a long weekend of it. Across the capital, many streets will be closed off to traffic, allowing communities to get together on the tarmac. Space hoppers are optional.

The event is organised by London Play with help from Transport for London. The hundred or so streets taking part are all doing so voluntarily with the full buy-in of residents. It’s a chance to see how our streets can be used when the motor car is banished.

Got to Londonist to read more.

London Play Press Releases
Spacehopper will be the only way to travel on more than 100 streets in London over Car Free Day weekend this month.
Play news
A report from Play England shows that children playing out on their street regularly brings big benefits for their health and wellbeing - but are increasingly being prevented from doing so by parents worried about upsetting the neighbours.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

London Play has joined more than 40 of the UK’s leading children’s charities and child development experts in issuing a warning to the Covid-19 Inquiry chair of “unacceptable delays” to taking evidence from children on lockdown.


Save the Children UK, the NSPCC and the National Children’s Bureau are among the signatories of an open letter sent to inquiry chair the Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett asking her to commission experts to start recording children’s experiences immediately.

This intervention comes as new research released in recent weeks reveals the scale of the damage to children’s social and emotional development during the pandemic, as well as impacting on their communication skills.

Dan Paskins, director of UK Impact at Save the Children said: “Children are being silenced by this inquiry. Despite repeated promises from chair, the Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallet, she would urgently ensure children’s memories are captured and the issue matters to her, no measures are in place to make this happen. 

“Children are not an afterthought or an inconvenience in this inquiry process. Their lives were turned upside down by government decisions and any barriers in the way of them having their say need to be removed immediately.” 

Louise King, Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, part of Just for Kids Law, said: “Hearing from children is now a critical issue for the proper functioning of the Covid Inquiry and these delays have gone on long enough. Children are one quarter of the population and there is simply no inquiry into what happened in the UK between 2020 and 2022 without them. 

“More than 40 organisations and child development experts are sending the strongest message possible that this lack of progress is no longer acceptable and this must be a wake up call for immediate action. We can’t sit by while more stories emerge of the pandemic’s impact on children without hearing from them directly and getting their views and personal experiences on record.”

The letter explains how there is still no clear public strategy and approach for listening to children and young people, especially those who experience inequalities or discrimination, nine months after this issue was first raised by Save the Children, Just for Law Kids and the Children’s Rights Alliance England.*

The inquiry’s recent advertising campaign for Every Story Matters (ESM), and the accompanying website emphasised “that all stories are important, and all stories should be told by those who wish to tell them”.

However, neither the website nor the advertising campaign makes any mention that this is an adult only activity and there is no provision for under 18s.

Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “Children’s needs often went under the radar during the pandemic but we heard first hand through Childline and the NSPCC Helpline about its devastating impact on many young people, particularly those subjected to abuse and neglect.

“Many of the children who suffered the most did so because they were hidden from those who could help them. It’s crucial the Covid Inquiry finally gives young people a voice so we can fully understand the support and services required to avoid a generation of children being defined by the pandemic.” 

Phillip Anderson, Strategic Director of External Affairs at the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Babies, children and young people have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. With school closures and social isolation undermining their development, many were also deprived of vital services like social care and health which were unable to provide business-as-usual support. 

“So, it is vital that the Covid-19 Inquiry listens hard to what a quarter of the population went through and reflects closely upon the experiences and ideas of children and young people themselves. If another pandemic strikes the next generation needs to be protected.”

The open letter is calling on the chair of the inquiry to:

  • Make a public commitment to hear from children, and in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who experience other inequalities or discrimination.
  • Ensure the research is carried out in partnership with an expert academic institution together with local community organisations with roots and credibility in particular communities which experience inequalities and discrimination.
  • Make a commitment that the findings from this research will directly inform the scope of the planned children’s module** of the inquiry and publicly set out how children’s voices have influenced the inquiry once the research has been conducted.

More here.

London Play Press Releases
Londoners are being invited to ‘swap their cars for spacehoppers’ this September, when at least 200 streets across the capital are hoped to transform into temporary play spaces in celebration of Car Free Day.
Play news
The Children's Alliance is calling for a National UK Strategy for Play to support the emotional recovery and resilience of children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

The Guardian has shone a spotlight on one of the campaigns London Play is supporting through the Communities United for Play initiative: in Lewisham,  parents and children are angry that developers have firstly taken over the only playground in the area, and then failed to reopen it as promised.

The story was picked up by ITV London News as shown in the clip below.

And from the Guardian:

Peabody yet to restore park after finishing construction work in 2020, leaving children with no green space.

Families in south London are demanding that an award-winning developer reopens a park that was boarded up in 2018 for the construction of new homes.

Hatcham Gardens sits in a densely built part of Lewisham next to a school and surrounded by flats. Peabody was given permission by Lewisham council to close the park temporarily for use during construction.

The homes in the Pomeroy development – most of them for private sale – were finished in 2020 and people moved in during spring 2021 but the park is still boarded up.

Keith Barr, the headteacher of Kender primary school, which overlooks the park, is angry that local children – who live sandwiched between two heavily polluted main roads – have missed out for so long.

“This was a very well used space in an area where many of our children live in flats. Parents and children used to just head straight over there after school – on summer days like this, they stay there for hours playing,” he said. “Our year 6 children – who are 11 – have not been able to play there since starting school in 2016. The nearest park is now a 20-minute walk away.”

Read more on the Guardian website, here.

And The Sun has also covered the story here.

Current work
This two year project sees London Play working alongside local play campaigners, supporting them to successfully challenge threats to local play spaces or services; and influence decisions relating to play.
Play news
Southwark residents marched on council offices to protest against proposed infill developments that they say will rob existing residents of space for play as well as natural light and recreation opportunities.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

The past decade has seen a revival in 1970s-style “playing out”, as kids reclaim our roads. Here’s a guide on which London boroughs are on board and how to do it yourself.

16 June 2023, Evening Standard

For many Londoners, the sight of children playing on the street is something from a bygone era. A time when neighbours knew each other by name and roads were less clogged with cars.

But in some areas of the capital “playing out” is making a comeback. Over the past decade a parent-led movement has started reclaiming residential roads as “Play Streets” and closing them off to traffic for a few hours on the weekend.

Play streets legislation first came into action in 1938 and hit its peak in the 1960s when Street Playground Orders applied to around 750 streets in England and Wales.

But according to Fiona Sutherland, deputy director of charity London Play, the practice began to fizzle out in the 1980s, and today cars have taken priority on our cities’ streets.

“We unearthed the dormant Play Streets legislation in 2012 and began working with councils and people to bring play back to the capital’s streets. Over the last decade we’ve seen a proper revival and now residents in 23 London boroughs can apply. We’re working on the remaining ten.”

According to Sutherland, for such a “simple intervention”, the benefits of Play Streets are huge for adults as well as children.

“Adults come out and gather on the street too which is great for tackling loneliness and strengthening relationships between neighbours. Children start to ‘knock’ for each other between sessions and it really brings communities together.”

Asked if people ever oppose Play Streets, Sutherland said while the large majority of a street will back the idea there will usually be around one per cent of people who oppose it.

“The way we see it is that children are the ones who have sacrificed play space and independence for cars. This is a small tip of the balance back in their favour.”

For the full story visit the Standard website here

Or get in touch with us to find out how you and your neighbours could be enjoying your street this summer!

Play news
The Scottish government has pledged £20m in funding to ensure that children have a Summer of Play to help address the impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and reduced participation in normal activities.
London Play in the news
London Play has joined academics and other play campaigners in calling on the government to support 'a summer of play' to help children recover from the stress of lockdown and a year of Covid upheaval.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

Lewisham Council has approved a new five-year play strategy developed by London Play. The document sets out an ambition to make Lewisham a more child-friendly borough.

The strategy, approved in October, aims to ensure all residents have play facilities within walking distance of their home, as well as improving consultation with children and parents when developing new play spaces.

A new five-year action plan will be developed to help realise the ambitions set out in the strategy. This will seek to improve the current adventure playground offer and invest in play spaces, as well putting children’s and parent’s voices at the heart of decision-making and ensuring a greater focus on play spaces in new housing developments.

The strategy was developed in partnership with London Play, informed by ideas from over 900 residents. Community engagement sessions and surveys were carried out to understand more about children’s experiences of play in Lewisham and how parents support their children to play.

Councillor Chris Barnham, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Community Safety, said:

“Play is crucial to children’s development and wellbeing. We are committed to making Lewisham a play-friendly borough and this strategy, informed by the views of children and parents, will support that by providing more opportunities and spaces to play. Every child should live within walking distance of a play space and our Play Strategy will help make that a reality.”

Emmerson Sutton, aged 15, London Youth Games Ambassador Lewisham:

“I want to play my part in making this borough more active and playful and look forward to meeting fellow young people in parks and play areas to discuss how to make sustainable improvements to these precious spaces. A comprehensive play strategy for children and young people in Lewisham is a great start, with the aim of having fun and upholding the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

More on Lewisham Council’s website here.

London Play is hopeful that other London councils will follow Lewisham’s lead. We invite anyone who is interested in developing a play strategy in their borough to contact us via

London Play Press Releases
Is your local play area in need of some luuurve? London Play is on the hunt for London’s saddest playground – so we can help you turn it around in 2023.
London Play Press Releases
28/10/22: Islington’s Waterside Adventure Playground was named London’s Adventure Playground of the Year 2022 and Lewisham’s Ashwater Road took the gong for Play Street of the Year at a noisy celebration in London’s West End yesterday. Adventure playgrounds in Richmond, Lambeth, Haringey and Hackney also won awards.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

National charity Family Action has teamed up with Fisher Price Play lab to support families to play together over the  summer.

Launched by actor and radio presenter Gemma Atkinson and her daughter, the Creating Happy Memories initiative offers parents and carers expert guidance and practical ideas to help them enjoy more play with the children in their lives.

In contrast to the shiny plastic toys Fisher Price is known for, resources include ideas for summer play activities with sand, mud and junk materials as well as tips on embracing risk and mess.

Early childhood expert Dr Jacqueline Harding from Middlesex University said that 10 minutes of simple focused playtime with children can be as beneficial to them as a day trip to the zoo. She said:

The good news is that what your young child or older children want is social interaction, and that’s free. So don’t fear a child saying they’re bored, because children will be their best selves during play.

She added: “There’s a whole variety of play… called malleable play, play with painting, jumping in mud and all that sort of thing. But afterwards, don’t expect to have a perfect house.”

You can access the resources for free on the Family Action website.

Play news
Children who play together well at age three consistently show fewer signs of mental health difficulties at age seven, regardless of potential confounding factors such as poverty levels and maternal distress.
Play news
Children from a Hackney primary school have staged an after school protest in their fight for the right to play in a local park during break times.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

London is set to become ‘Britain’s biggest playground’ this summer as mayor Sadiq Khan launches a search for five special kids to become London’s first Mayors of Play and London Play brings ‘Formula Fun’ go kart action to the city streets.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is inviting families from across London and UK to spend their school holidays experiencing all that the capital’s attractions have to offer this summer.

Announcing the latest phase of his #LetsDoLondon campaign, the biggest domestic tourism the capital has ever seen, the ‘Family Fun’ season will see London burst back to life with an unprecedented range of family-friendly events and activities.

New City Hall figures show that while weekend visitor numbers to central London are improving, now at around 75 per cent compared to 2019, weekday visitors are still at around 54 per cent compared to before the pandemic. The Mayor today is inviting families from around London and further afield to visit the capital declaring ‘there has never been a better time for children and families avoid the queues at our wonderful attractions.’

Unveiling a whole range of exciting activities for children of all ages today, Sadiq is encouraging families across the capital and nationwide to plan a day trip, mini break or a longer staycation to what he is calling ‘Britain’s biggest playground’ this summer.

The Family Fun Programme will include everything from ‘Formula Fun’ go-karting on the streets of London, to new fairground rides, and events with top class musicians, poets, street artists and dancers. There will be new outdoor art trails, as well as exclusive events to celebrate the return of West End theatre as part of Kids Week. New outdoor learning and play experiences will also connect families with London’s nature and heritage through hands-on fun and inspiring activities led by Royal Parks. Further events and activities are being organised by leading cultural institutions such as the National Gallery, Sadler’s Wells, and Somerset House. This includes the Tate Modern inviting visitors of all ages to transform the floor of the Turbine Hall into a giant work of art.

With children having been deprived of play and many other important experiences during the pandemic, the Mayor is inviting young Londoners to apply for a summer job like no other. He is today starting his public search to fill an exciting new vacancy – the opportunity to become London’s first ‘Mayors of Play’.

A team of up to five lucky Londoners – between the ages of 8-11– will be given the chance of filling this once in a lifetime ‘summer job’. Once appointed, the Mayors of Play will work alongside Sadiq providing ‘expert’ guidance in curating the most family-friendly and accessible activities in London. During their time in office, the Mayors of Play will share their recommendations on London’s best museums and outdoor spaces as well as their favourite galleries and activities. The Mayors of Play will also share their favourite places to eat and drink and will help reimagine London’s iconic tube map for their peers.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s been such an incredibly difficult 16 months for young people and their families, so I’m delighted that we can offer such a huge range of exciting events and activities that young people can enjoy.

“I want to turn London into Britain’s biggest playground this summer – whether with our plans for go-karting, new fairground rides, or opportunities to get involved in dance, poetry, art, or preserving nature in our wonderful royal parks. And in launching my search for London’s first ever ‘Mayors of Play’, I want to hear directly from our young people about what we need to focus on most to make the capital even better for children.

“With restrictions on international travel still in place, there has never been a better time for children and families from London and across the UK to avoid the queues and safely visit our wonderful attractions this summer.

“And with London’s streets still quieter than before the pandemic, by visiting the capital this summer, you’ll be giving our wonderful visitor attractions the support they need now more than ever to guarantee their survival.”

Paul Hocker, Director of London Play, said: “London Play is committed to creating happy London childhoods and that’s been tough to deliver on over the last 18 months, so we’re delighted to be working with the Mayor and his team on the Let’s Do London programme with our Formula Fun events.

“This is the summer London’s children and their families deserve and London – the world’s leading city for play – is the place to be. Watch out for our hand-made go-kart workshops across central London in August bringing together hundreds of Londoners, big and small”.

For those young Londoners between 8-11 years old who feel up to the task of becoming a ‘Mayor of Play’ – simply ask a parent or guardian to help you apply here – by Monday 19 July.

Or want to get involved in London Play’s Formula Fun go kart events? We need you to have a team of eight children (plus adult supporters) and a central London location (street, housing estate, community centre) with enough space outside to build and race in. More info is HERE. 

London Play Press Releases
London Play is one of  many organisations behind a campaign to ensure that every child has the space, time, and freedom to play this summer as Covid-19 restrictions are eased. Can you sign the #SummerOfPlay pledge?
London Play Press Releases
London Play has supported a successful resident-led campaign to overturn a decision by Croydon Council to introduce charges for children playing in the street.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

London Play will be bringing joy back to the city streets this summer as part of the Mayor’s ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign, to encourage Londoners and visitors back into the capital.

Mayor of London press release

Sadiq Khan formally signed in for a second term as Mayor of London on Monday 10 May, on stage at the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe, as he announced plans for the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen to help London’s economy get back on its feet as COVID restrictions are eased.

An immediate priority for the Mayor will be his new ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign, launching today, which is being created in partnership with the city’s hospitality, culture, and retail industries. The flagship campaign to encourage Londoners and visitors back into central London will include a programme of one-off special events created in partnership with London’s best-known cultural institutions and tourism attractions. It will kick off later this month

Kicking off in spring with  the capital’s famous chefs, foodies and hospitality venues coming together to promote and celebrate London’s world-class food offer, the summer will offer families and children a plethora of free, joyful opportunities.

London Play, the capital’s leading charity for children’s play, will be opening up central London for families and transforming streets with play.

Other summer attractions will include the London Festival of Hope which “will bring a true celebration of life with an art and photography contest, competitions for all the family including an amateur ‘bake-off’, community activations, giant inflatables taking over London’s skyline and a series of outdoor live music concerts that will reimagine the performance space.” The Southbank Centre will welcome audiences back with their Summer Reunion programme – 15 consecutive weekends of free outdoor activity from and the Tate Modern will also be offering large scale free activities during the summer.

Click here for full details in the press release on the Mayor of London website.

London Play Press Releases
More than four square kilometres of temporary play space was created in an instant last month as Londoners came out to play on their car free streets.
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Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

London Play has joined academics and other play campaigners in calling on the government to support ‘a summer of play’ to help children recover from the stress of lockdown and a year of Covid upheaval.

Instead of extra lessons, catch-up summer schools and longer school days, we believe that children should be encouraged to spend the coming months outdoors, being physically active and having fun with their friends.

As the Guardian reported:

Psychologists have reported behavioural changes in some children following the first lockdown last year. After months of isolation from friends, some struggled to share and play together, teachers reported more fights and fallings-out, and Ofsted observed a worrying drop in physical fitness.

As the government draws up its latest education catch-up plans, to be unveiled in the coming weeks, a group of academics calling themselves PlayFirstUK have written to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, appealing for a new emphasis on play, mental health and wellbeing as children emerge from lockdown.

“This spring and summer should not be filled with extra lessons,” the letter says. “Children, teachers and parents need time and space to recover from the stress that the past year has placed on them.

As part of a wider recovery process, children should be encouraged and supported to spend time outdoors, playing with other children and being physically active. Where it is needed, evidence-based mental health support must be made available.”

It continues: “This is not an either-or decision. Social connection and play offer myriad learning opportunities and are positively associated with children’s academic attainment and literacy.”

The group cautioned that intensive “catch-up” plans, intended to help pupils make up lost ground as a result of the pandemic, could end up worsening children’s mental health and wellbeing, and have a negative effect on learning in the long term.

Read more here

Play news
The Scottish government has pledged £20m in funding to ensure that children have a Summer of Play to help address the impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and reduced participation in normal activities.
Play news
Four out of five parents support education catch up policies to support their children's wellbeing according to the IFS.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.