‘First of kind’ fair playground opens

Play deprivation rife in temporary accommodation

The closer the green space, the closer the community

Play spaces sacrificed as development goes wrong

London inclusion charter to centre children’s rights

Play well reviews links between play and wellbeing

Play streets pave way to better health, stronger communities

Sedentary pandemic habits fuel surge in childhood obesity

Put children’s voices at the ‘heart of next government’

Centre for children to improve life chances

 

The Mayor of Barnet has opened a new inclusive and accessible playground at Victoria Recreation Ground in East Barnet enabling people of all ages and abilities to play together.

The Fair Play playground directly addresses the challenges faced by the disability community and empowers disabled and non-disabled people of all ages to play together without exclusion or bias. Local residents with disabilities, parents, carers and accessibility experts have been involved in shaping the project from the outset, putting the disability community at the heart of its design.

There are one million disabled children in the UK. But research from Scope has shown that half (49%) of parents with disabled children say there are accessibility issues at their local playground, and more than one in ten families living with disability (13%) were unable to enjoy the playground because their children were not able to play together.

Cllr Nagus Narenthira, the Worshipful Mayor of Barnet, said: “I am honoured to be able to open the Fair Play inclusive playground today. It’s wonderful to see so many people of all ages and abilities being able to play together. We are fortunate in Barnet to have had such a wonderful team of fundraisers to help achieve this and I hope this is a model that we can see more of in future.”

Deborah Gundle, co-founder of Fair Play, said: “As a mother with a disabled son, I know how difficult it is for families like ours to be able to play together. A lot of hard work has gone into this project, and seeing the equipment being used by disabled and non-disabled children side-by-side is incredibly rewarding. I’d love for every playground to allow people of all ages and abilities to play in this way and we hope Fair Play will act as the blueprint for new playgrounds up and down the country.

“Inclusive play will reduce stigma through positive experiences in a society where social integration and physical fitness are important to all of us.”

As a mother of three, Nathalie has always valued the importance of play for physical, social, cognitive and emotional development, and believes playgrounds are a space where there should be no exclusion.

Nathalie Esfandi, co-founder of Fair Play, said: “Playgrounds should be wholly accessible and inclusive, allowing those with learning and physical disabilities to play alongside their siblings and friends. Local governments across the country should take note of this, providing community spaces that serve all ages and abilities.”

The half a million pound playground has been paid for through independent funding and donations, including £100,000 coming from Barnet Council. In addition, the Council launched a public consultation to ensure it meets the needs of local residents.

Solid safety surfacing across the whole play area ensures it is wheelchair accessible, and the picnic area allows wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users to sit together. There are also communication boards for non-verbal people to use, along with a textured path surface to support visually impaired users to navigate and only one entrance and exit to ensure users won’t leave without their carer’s knowledge.

Play news
The charity Scope is calling on the government to set up a £37m fund to make sure all children, regardless of ability, can use playgrounds.
Play news
A survey of parents and carers for disabled children has found that only four per cent have been able to find holiday clubs which meet their needs this summer.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

More than 82,000 children living in temporary accommodation in London risk losing their ability to play – blocking their development and storing up “catastrophic” problems for them in later life, leading experts have told the i newspaper.

Research by University College London has explored the challenges that families living in temporary accommodation face, particularly in regards to ensuring time, resources and space for their children to play. It found that children living in temporary, local authority housing are being prevented from playing because many live in cramped conditions, with strict visitor policies that don’t allow friends over. As a result, tens of thousands of children are seeing their physical and psychological development suffer, with charities reporting cases of “toddlers that haven’t learnt to walk yet because their living space is too small to naturally learn to walk”.

England’s long-running housing crisis has recently accelerated into a new and damaging phase, compounded by rising costs of living. Social safety nets are straining to match the growing need for affordable, decent accommodation. The consequences of this crisis risk hampering the development of an entire generation. At present,
there are over 130,000 children living in English temporary housing – most of them in London.

The article in i features the plight of one single mother, living in temporary accommodation with her seven-month-old child, said: “There’s no room: I don’t have my own bedroom and neither does she. I think it will affect her development because she’s at the age now where she wants to get up, stand up, and crawl around and there’s no space for her to do that. And it will only get worse as she gets older. She hasn’t crawled yet, but my worry is when she does crawl, how do I baby-proof this?”

People living in temporary, or emergency, accommodation often suffer from depression and anxiety, as well as feelings of guilt, isolation, unhappiness and a loss of “agency” – control over their actions and their consequences – all of which make play even harder.

“The crisis in temporary housing means most children have no space to play . This is a ticking time bomb that can have a direct impact on a child’s social interaction, physical development and mental health,” Professor Monica Lakhanpaul, of UCL, told i.

“From the data gathered, it is clear that there is yet immense work to be done to tackle the problem of play in temporary accommodation,” added UCL researcher Lorenzo Dall’Omo.

He wants to see existing spaces in temporary housing made more suitable for play, making local play facilities more accessible to children and putting play at the core of the way the accommodation is managed.

For more on this article click here to go to the i website

Or for the report from the Reach Alliance, which  responsible for producing the research click below.

A Place to Play
Play news
Marking 10 years since the Play Sufficiency Duty was introduced in Wales, Play Wales has published a preview of its upcoming literature review, looking at the links between play and wellbeing.
London Play in the news
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.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

Proximity to accessible greenspaces increases local social cohesion, according to a four city European study involving over 1,300 people.

The paper,  published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, suggests that proximity to accessible greenspaces increases local social cohesion directly, but only indirectly improves people’s mental health through improving social cohesion. The study was limited to proximity and did not look at people’s engagement with green space, which meant that researchers were not able to make a direct link between this and mental health.

In the face of rises in mental illnesses there has been increasing interest in the role of community infrastructure in sustaining good mental health. Moreover, green spaces are anticipated to offer advantages for both mental health and social cohesion. However, the mediating pathway between green space, social cohesion and mental health and especially the proximity and characteristics of green spaces that trigger these potential effects remain of interest. The researchers gathered data from 1365 individuals on self-reported social cohesion and mental health across four satellite districts in European cities: Nantes (France), Porto (Portugal), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Høje-Taastrup (Denmark).

The results suggest that accessibility, connectivity, mix of use and proximity are key characteristics that drive the relationship between green spaces, social cohesion and mental health. This gives further guidance to urban planners and decision-makers on how to design urban green spaces to foster social cohesion and improve mental health. To read the full paper click here.

Play news
Children with more green space near their homes have significantly stronger bones, a study has found, potentially leading to lifelong health benefits.
London Play Press Releases
London Play has won nearly £100k in funding to support adventure playgrounds and ensure the capital’s most vulnerable children can enjoy a summer of play.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

As inflation halts housebuilding projects the Guardian has highlighted the issue of play spaces being sacrificed and abandoned when developments go wrong

 

Families in south London say their children have stopped playing outside after communal spaces and playgrounds were ripped out to make room for new homes and then left boarded up when Southwark council ran out of money.

The council began tearing down large parts of the Bells Gardens and Lindley estates in Peckham last August but abandoned the build in January due to a funding crisis driven by rising interest rates. All that remains of the previous play area is a small pitch surrounded by hoardings and out of sight of the flats.

Experts warn the boarded-up area – which locals say is an “abomination” – illustrates a crisis in how social housing is funded as well as an urgent need for better laws to protect children’s play spaces.

Helen Dennis, a councillor and cabinet member for new homes and sustainable development, told the Guardian the council was being hit by mounting costs. “Increased inflation, significantly higher building costs and interest rates following the government’s mini-budget a year ago have meant that councils across the country have had to change plans.

“The residents of Bells Gardens worked so passionately with us to plan what was to happen on the estate. It’s incredibly disappointing. We will provide a playground and we are working as quickly as possible to get things moving again.”

More on this article is here.

London Play in the news
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.
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.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

The  Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has invested £1.4m from London’s Violence Reduction Unit in a partnership with UNICEF UK that will provide child rights resources and training to support inclusive practice, learner voice and engagement for all state-funded school and education settings in London for the next four years.

London’s Inclusion Charter  is a partnership between young people, schools and local authorities to help tackle rising suspensions and absenteeism that has led to thousands of children losing out on learning – and becoming at greater risk of exposure to violence.

Figures show that the equivalent of 1,430 children each day lost learning in London in 2021/22 due to suspension or persistent absenteeism – up 71 per cent on pre-pandemic levels in 2018/19. Since 2018/19, suspensions in London have increased by 14 per cent, while persistent absenteeism has grown 106 per cent. There is a correlation between children with a history of suspension or exclusion from school and violence.

The first city-wide charter of its type, it has been developed by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in partnership with young people, schools, parents and carers and education specialists. It will entitle all educations settings in London free access to UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting Schools Award programme for the next four years.   Participating schools will gain recognition for putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into practice within the school and beyond.

There are already 18 boroughs signed up to the principles of the Charter, including Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Hounslow, Islington, Lambeth, Newham, Southwark, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Westminster.  The Mayor is today calling for all schools and local authorities to sign up to the principles of the Charter and take up the free offer of support.

Research commissioned by the VRU, and published by the University of Bath  captured the views of nearly 4,000 school children, parents and educators. It found that two-thirds of primary school children and more than half of secondary-aged young people felt that having school rules that were fair would help them feel safe, while 67 per cent of primary students felt not being listened to impact their sense of belonging. Being safe and belonging are both crucial factors in attendance in education.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I firmly believe in the importance of education and being in school to keep young people safe and to help them develop and grow.

“We are seeing suspensions and absenteeism rise both in London and the rest of the country. The equivalent of more than 1,400 children are losing out on education each day in London alone. That can’t be right. We also know there is a correlation between school exclusions and violence.

“It’s why we are launching London’s Inclusion Charter – the first of its type city-wide. My Violence Reduction Unit has led the way, working in partnership with young people, local authorities and schools to develop a Charter that prioritises education in our city that is fully inclusive, fair and available to all.

“Of course, this approach requires investment and that’s why we’re investing £1.4m in a partnership with UNICEF UK to provide further training and resources to support our hardworking teachers to embed inclusion which we know keeps young people in school, safe and able to thrive.”

More is here.

Play news
Labour's Child Health Action Plan commits the party to adopting a 'prevention first' approach but omits any mention of play.
Play news
An extra 56,000 children in England are leaving primary school obese due to habits embedded during the pandemic, a large study has found.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

Marking 10 years since the Play Sufficiency Duty was introduced in Wales, Play Wales has published a preview of its upcoming literature review, looking at the links between play and wellbeing.

Play Wales has published a summary of its forthcoming publication, Playing and being well. Undertaken by Dr Wendy Russell, with Mike Barclay and Ben Tawil from Ludicology, it’s a review of recent research into children’s play, social policy and practice, with a focus on Wales.

Commissioned by Play Wales, the literature review investigates the connections between play sufficiency and children’s wellbeing. It draws mainly on academic research, across a range of disciplines, but also draws on professional, advocacy and practitioner literature where appropriate. The review focuses on the role of play in children’s wellbeing, children’s play patterns, and adult support for children’s play.

The summary includes information about:

  • the scope and approach of the literature review
  • an overview and findings from each of the chapters in the review
  • the authors’ proposal of a relational capability approach to children’s wellbeing through actions to create conditions that support playing
  • closing thoughts on adults’ responsibility for children’s play.

This review has been carried out 10 years after the commencement of the Play Sufficiency Duty and while the Welsh Government was undertaking its Ministerial Review of Play. The evidence gathered in the literature review will inform this ongoing work.

The full literature review will be published later this year. Download the summary here: Playing and being well

Play news
An extra 56,000 children in England are leaving primary school obese due to habits embedded during the pandemic, a large study has found.
London Play Press Releases
London Play is on the hunt again for London's saddest playgrounds

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

Being involved in play streets has changed people’s perceptions of street use, improved children’s health and created stronger communities, according to a national survey.

More than three quarters of respondents to Playing Out’s survey said that the children on their street enjoy better mental and physical health as a result of play streets; while the vast majority also believe that play streets have led to stronger communities and a greater sense of belonging.

Confirming again what play street proponents have long understood, the survey report will provide would-be play street organisers, councils and play advocates everywhere with wonderful evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to make the case for play on the street.

“There have been so many magical moments. One of my favourites is when two of the older girls, my daughter and a friend who have been playing out on the street since they were 4, decided to organise a talent show.”

Notably for those who are interested in the potential for play streets to inspire new uses for street space that is not dominated by cars, some 64 per cent of respondents confirmed that being involved play streets had helped change their perceptions of street use.

For the full report, click here (Playing Out website).

Play news
Children who spend more time engaged in adventurous play involving an element of risk have fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to research that found the effect was more pronounced among children from lower income families.
Play news
An extra 56,000 children in England are leaving primary school obese due to habits embedded during the pandemic, a large study has found.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

An extra 56,000 children in England are leaving primary school obese due to habits embedded during the pandemic, a large study has found.

During 2020–2021 there were steep increases in overweight and obesity prevalence in children of all ages. But a new study has revealed that whereas by 2022 this had returned to expected levels in reception aged children, for 10-11 year olds it was four percentage points higher than expected.  Not only this but the increase was twice as high in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived.

Experts said this was probably because while younger children reverted to healthier lifestyles, in many older children, poor eating habits, insufficient exercise and harmful levels of screen time had become embedded. The figures expose the “profound” and “alarming” long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic, they said.

Their study, published in the journal PLOS One, also found that the sharp uptick, affecting 56,000 extra children, would mean an additional lifelong healthcare cost in this cohort will amount to £800 million with a cost to society of £8.7 billion. U

Prof Mark Hanson, an emeritus professor of human development and health at Southampton and a co-author of the study, told the Guardian that the figures warranted immediate action and that new policies should be aimed at the under-fives, given that in some cases obesity in older children “may be impossible” to escape. “Once established, obesity has proven to be difficult to reverse. Some 60%-85% of children with obesity remain obese in adulthood, increasing their risks of future ill-health.”

More on this story is in the Guardian or the research paper is available for free here.

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
London Play's submission to the government inquiry into the experiences of children and young people in the built environment.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

Children are a priority for people across the UK, with 84 per cent of adults responding to a recent survey saying that they think it’s important for political parties to outline their plans for children and young people in their manifestos.

The figures were released by the Children’s Charities Coalition, to coincide with the launch the Children at the Table campaign as the country prepares for a general election. The coalition comprises five national children’s charities: Action for Children, Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, NSPCC, and The Children’s Society, which are calling on the government and all political parties to work together to improve the lives of babies, children and young people, put children’s needs and voices at the heart of decision making, and spend more of the nation’s wealth on babies, children and young people.

The data  highlights that children feel politicians don’t understand their lives and aren’t listening to them. The charities surveyed 1,000 children and 1,000 adults, Some 62 per cent of UK children think that politicians don’t understand the issues that affect children and young people today; while almost three quarters (73 per cent) don’t feel that children are listened to by politicians. Only 16 per cent of adults believe that politicians fully or mostly understand the issues that affect children and young people.

“A child’s happiness and life chances are shaped by the circumstances of their birth and early life experiences,” said Action for Children CEO Paul Carberry. Yet in the UK today, around 4.2 million children are growing up in poverty and the wellbeing and mental health of the country’s children is in decline.

“We’re asking the next Prime Minister and Chancellor, regardless of political party, to ensure children’s voices are heard so they can meaningfully engage in policy development. We want to see an ambitious strategy to put children’s needs at the heart of the next government and make the UK one of the best places in the world to grow up, with more of the nation’s wealth invested in babies, children and young people.”

Baroness Floella Benjamin, Vice President of Barnardo’s, and former BBC Playschool presenter, said:

“As I always say, ‘Childhood lasts a lifetime’ – so I’m extremely proud to support this campaign to give children a voice in decision making which will affect their whole lives. With widespread poverty, inequality and shrinking support for children and families, there has never been a more vital time to put children at the centre of political parties’ plans for the next government.”

More on this story can be found on Action for Children’s website.

London Play Press Releases
London Play's submission to the government inquiry into the experiences of children and young people in the built environment.
London Play Press Releases
London Play is on the hunt again for London's saddest playgrounds

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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

The former Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has announced the launch of a new think tank for children.

The Centre for Young Lives describes itself as “a new dynamic, innovative, independent thinktank and delivery unit dedicated exclusively to improving the life chances of children, young people, and their families.”

It will build on the work by the Commission on Young Lives, also headed up by Longfield. But whereas the commission was set up to prevent crises for the most vulnerable teenagers, the new centre will help all children in a variety of areas, from reducing child poverty to improving educational outcomes and mental health.

The Centre for Young Lives will be seeking collaborations and partnerships with other organisations and individuals who believe Britain should be the best place for children and young people to grow up, and aims to conduct in-depth research to develop new approaches to improving children’s outcomes.

Longfield told Children and Young People Now magazine:

“Children have been ignored and overlooked. They aren’t at the forefront of any strategic policy within government. We should be outraged and devastated that tens of thousands of children don’t have the support they need to be able to flourish in life.”

Longfield was delighted that the recommendation of the Commission to implement a Sure Start Plus for teenagers programme, has been proposed as a possible Labour party policy if they win the next general election.

“If they were to win the election, we remain convinced that there needs to be a real focus on youth workers, both in terms of preventing young people from getting involved in crime and exploitation and also helping them to succeed in school. Early intervention has always been at the core of what I’ve talked about and done, and this will be at the heart of the Centre for Young Lives approach,” said Longfield.

For more on this story go to CYPNow website

Or click here to go to the Centre for Young Lives website.

London Play Press Releases
London Play is on the hunt again for London's saddest playgrounds
London Play Press Releases
London Play's submission to the government inquiry into the experiences of children and young people in the built environment.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

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