Families urged to make play memories this summer

Play to lead London’s great reawakening

London Play calls for a ‘summer of play’

All the youth we cannot see

Adventure playgrounds rise to the challenge

ELHAP ‘well ‘appy’ with top award

£100K play streets project for Newham

London ‘two tier play’ exposed

Go kart charity warns of cuts to play


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 – https://www.london.gov.uk/mayors-play-competition 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.
A single donation will help us with our work today; a regular donation will help us plan for the future. There are a number of ways that you can donate:


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.

Connecting children to public space outdoors had a watershed moment when Richard Louv published his now classic Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. A new handbook on designing public space for children shares examples of how marginalised children are being successfully connected with the outdoors; and includes a chapter from London Play, on play streets.

Landscape Architecture Magazine

The image of the carefree youth, which Mark Twain so eloquently captured in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer during this era, is ultimately one of privilege. In the early 20th century, fortunate boys living without the unending chores of a farm or factory hours in the city had more leisure time to explore the woods and streams. “The country road with barefoot boys, dogs, and fishing poles was an important part of early twentieth century small-town iconography,” notes Gordon, quoting Sinclair Lewis. The iconic youth in small towns was in various ways an elite group. How many prior generations of children of colour and girls were never in Louv’s proverbial woods in the first place?

The editors of The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People focus on providing access and voice specifically to these groups of marginalised young people. Access, in particular, has been a central topic in the research and at conferences. There has also been increasing discussion around social justice. However, empowering voices within the process is a newer concept that brings a different set of challenges to the committed professional.

“While pragmatic about failure, the Handbook is essentially hopeful. Speaking truth to power and empowering the marginalised are not trivial tasks, but ones that require the finesse and suite of skills for which landscape architects, planners, and environmental psychologists are fully trained. Some case studies, such as the creation of a play street culture in London, show how play and independent mobility can be increased.”

The methodologies, tools, and case studies are the guidance and inspiration that leaders and professionals need to support disadvantaged young voices today and to build inclusive public spaces now.

The full article is at Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People: Processes, Practices, and Policies for Youth Inclusion, edited by Janet Loebach, Sarah Little, Adina Cox, and Patsy Eubanks Owens; London and New York: Routledge, 2020.

London Play Press Releases
From Monday 14 September, it will be illegal in England, unless at school or work, for someone to meet more than five other people at a time. What does this mean for play streets?
Children and young people
This evaluation of the Street Play Project delivered by London Play, Playing Out and Play England includes persuasive arguments for the public health benefits of play streets.


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

Adventure playgrounds may have closed their gates, but they have not closed the door on their ‘playing customers’, London’s children.

London’s adventure playgrounds are rising to the significant challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and continuing to support some of the capital’s most vulnerable children and families through the crisis. As the Easter holidays begin, adventure playground workers have turned their considerable skills and creativity to developing new online and remote channels of playfulness to keep children playing at home. Others have become hubs for community food distribution, even as they grapple with the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Some 90 per cent of respondents to London Play’s recent adventure playground survey said they intended to maintain communications with their users; and more than half planned to deliver some services remotely. Numerous examples of their ability to adapt and respond to the needs of the communities that they serve have come to light in recent days:

* Loughborough Community Centre at Max Roach is delivering free lunch and exchangeable play resources to children’s doors, three days a week during the Easter holidays.

* Haringey’s Somerford Grove Adventure Playground is working with the Felix Project to collect surplus food donations each Thursday for distributing to the local community.

* Hackney Play Association is inviting children to share their ideas for play during lockdown; as well as drawings or paintings of the view from their window to include in an online gallery called ‘My View’. Send photos to ideas@hackneyplay.org or complete the survey here.

* Lambeth’s Triangle Adventure Playground has launched an online PlayZone and YouTube channel to run a programme of activities for its children. Staff said: “Jon and Gabriel and Eldith and Jake and Laura and Darragh and Rob miss all of you so we want to see the Triangle kids having fun wherever you are.”

Financial concerns

Financial worries are unsurprisingly a key concern for adventure playground organisations which already operate under severe budget constraints. Many are unsure about whether some funding will continue in light of their inability to deliver against agreed targets. And although the jobs of most permanent staff appear to be relatively safe at this stage, around half of adventure playgrounds responding to the survey also said that they may have to consider laying off sessional workers. Unsurprisingly they are also ready to act to mitigate the financial impact, with around 80 per cent of survey respondents hoping to use the closure time to write funding bids.

Despite these very real concerns, the resilience and creativity of the staff at London’s unique adventure playgrounds is what stands out. London Play is committed to doing what we can to help and will be looking at how best to do this, along with publishing tips and guidance, in the coming days and weeks. If you work at an adventure playground, please do get in touch with any suggestions or questions or anything you want to share.



The most happening  adventure playground in London is ELHAP in Redbridge, it was announced today.

The special needs playground was named London Adventure Playground of the Year 2019 at a noisy, messy, joyous event in central London.

The 2019 London Adventure Play Awards saw around 150 experts in play – children – converge on the Prince Charles Cinema to watch short films they had made about the places they love to play up on the big screen. Children are in charge at any good adventure playground and the ELHAP film raised squeals of delight from the young audience with its messy scenes of compliant playworkers being doused in paint, slime and other disgusting goo by children that play there.

Islington’s Timbuktu Adventure Playground scooped the ‘Coolest Place to Play’ award with its film featuring tree climbing, fire building and a lovely dance-off scene to an upbeat soundtrack; while borough-mate Three Corners Adventure Playground took the ‘All Inclusive Award’ and Hackney’s Homerton Grove won ‘Best Flick’ at the annual event today.

Eleven adventure playgrounds were shortlisted for awards and children from the 2018 winners, Triangle Adventure Playground, were the judges. Of ELHAP they commented approvingly: “They get to make the playworkers wet and dirty.” This was also seen as a major plus by the children who play there. Shereen, 10 said: “I can get really, really messy and make slime and throw paint at all the staff!” The winning prize will see ELHAP children and staff working with APES Adventure Playground Engineers to design and build a new play structure with £500 of free materials.

Enfield’s Kynaston Road was named London’s Play Street of the Year with a low-key film showing the simple pleasures of playing in a traffic-free street, even when it rains. Tia, 7 said: “I like play street because you get to ride your bike and play on the road. It’s my favourite in the summer when it doesn’t rain. I want to live on the street forever and be the person who looks after play street with my friends.” The movie-style ‘clapper board’ award came with a prize of £100 for play equipment for the street.

Other prizes were donated by Marks Barfield (a trip in a private pod on the London Eye); and Timberplay (a den building kit) – to the delight of the young winners. But no one missed out! Along with the chance to see their films there was plenty of popcorn, noise, games and high jinks with compere Charlie keeping things just on the right side of chaos.

London Play’s chair, Melian Mansfield said: “Congratulations to ELHAP, Three Corners, Timbuktu and Homerton Grove adventure playgrounds on their awards – and also to Kynaston Road. Thank you too, for showing us what all children deserve: access to high quality, adventurous play in their communities and on their doorsteps. These annual awards remind us how important it is to protect them for future generations.”

London Play Press Releases
Three London adventure playgrounds that went to extraordinary lengths to keep children playing – and in some cases, fed too – during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic were yesterday announced as joint winners of the coveted London Adventure Playground of the Year Award
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Residents are being encouraged to set up traffic-free ‘play streets’ outside their homes.

The £100,000 a year project will allow people to close streets from traffic for up to four hours during daylight, allowing children to play in the public space close to their homes.

Play streets have already taken place under rules designed for street parties, but at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to create a separate application process, allowing for up to 24 play street days a year, instead of two.

They’ll be resident-led, with volunteer traffic marshalls and supervisors. The council will provide basic training for volunteers, high-vis clothing, and traffic cones and road closed signs.

Councillor Rachel Tripp said: “Children playing outside their homes used to be at the heart of street life in the east end, before cars and traffic came to dominate the environment.

“Our play streets scheme aims to redress the balance, get children active and enjoying a life beyond computer screens.

More on this story here



LONDON: As many as half a dozen housing developments across London – most of them relatively new – separate play areas for richer and poorer children.

Politicians from across the political spectrum this week joined in denouncing developer Henley Homes after a Guardian investigation showed that it was blocking social housing residents from shared play spaces at its Baylis Old School complex in south London. The furore led Henley to back down in a public statement yesterday, and Lambeth Council has begun demolishing the wall.

Now a subsequent investigation has revealed that the story was not unique. As many as half a dozen developments across London – most of them relatively new, or featuring recent conversions of older buildings – separate play areas for richer and poorer children, often with hedges or other barriers.

The Seren Gardens development, located near Greenwich Park, has a mix of social, shared ownership and private homes, and won an Evening Standard award for best large-scale mixed tenure development.

The shared ownership and social housing part of the site, however, which is run by Moat Housing, has no access to the communal leisure areas.

“We have no outside space at all, just that balcony which of course I don’t want my children out on very much,” says resident Lucy, who didn’t want to be identified. “Two children over in the private development are at school with my kids. But they can’t play together. And the kids know – they know there is a play area they can’t use. “We just play in the carpark when it’s sunny.”

Deputy director at London Play, Fiona Sutherland said: “Play, like food and music, acts as a bridge between diverse communities. Segregating ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ children as they play will further entrench inequalities and divisions in society.” She commended the Guardian for shedding light on the issue but said it was not a big surprise to the charity. “This trend first came to prominence when Wandsworth Council demolished its free access Battersea Park Adventure Playground in 2013. This was replaced with a standard fixed equipment playground and any child wanting more exciting adventurous play must now pay £30 to swing over the heads of the poorer children at the Go Ape attraction.”

For more on the Guardian story click here

More on this story here


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

Children from deprived areas like east London could be “paying the price” of public spending cuts and lose opportunities to improve their lives.

That’s the stark warning from organisers of this year’s London kids’ go-kart ‘grand prix’ staged on the Isle of Dogs.

Youngsters from adventure playgrounds across London turned up at Mudchute Farm for the annual race that also teaches them basic engineering, aerodynamics and teamwork as well as how to have a fun day.

The annual event gets support from Canary Wharf volunteers—but the adventure playground movement is facing many places being closed down through lack of local council funding.

“It’s a short-sighted attempt to save money,” London Play charity’s deputy director Fiona Sutherland told the East London Advertiser.

For more on this story go to the East London Advertiser website.