Child development hit by lack of play

Don’t infill our play spaces say protestors

Tower Hamlets invests in play

Childhood obesity rises during year of lockdowns

Islington dragon’s lair is London’s best place to play

Child mental health referrals soar

Play to lead London’s great reawakening

Council u-turn on play street charges

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A rapid review of emerging international and UK evidence on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s early physical development suggests there have been substantial changes to children’s lifestyle and behaviour putting their healthy development at risk.

child playing indoors

The report, titled Growing up in the Covid-19 pandemic An evidence review of the impact of pandemic life on physical development in the early years, outlines how lockdown and closed services have impacted children in the early years, and says there have been a “substantial changes” to children’s lifestyles and behaviour as a result of the pandemic. It finds that the pandemic has “disproportionately and adversely” impacted vulnerable children, putting their physical development at greater risk.

Concerns highlighted include those relating to more time spent inside: decreases in physical activity and increases in sedentary behaviour (screen time); and increased risk of vitamin D deficiency; as well as changes in diet and increased food insecurity.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, commented:

We are very concerned about the extent to which children’s physical development has been affected by the pandemic. Practitioners have been reporting notable differences in children’s physical development since reopening their settings in June of last year – especially in urban areas where homes are often smaller and there are fewer opportunities to play outside.

For more on this story go to the EYA website.

Play news
Parents are worried that the loss of freedom to play during the pandemic could have a long term impact on their children.
London Play Press Releases
Dear Boris, please prioritise children’s wellbeing during this third lockdown in England.

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Southwark residents marched on council offices last week 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.

Photo: SaveKingstonEst Twitter

In the latest in its efforts to tackle the 15,000-strong waiting list for council homes, Southwark Council is proposing to develop eight new social rent homes on existing green space right next to Everett House on the Kingston Estate, Walworth. Residents say the development will block sunlight for Everett House, and take away the only space where children can easily play within view of their parents. Kingston Estate resident Jim Colfer, who has been organising the protests with fellow resident Peter Gamble told Southwark News:

“It’s ridiculous… Now they want to put our kids out of our sight to make up for the space they’re taking from us.”

The Kingston Estate proposal is one of several infill developments planned for Southwark housing estates which is facing opposition from local people. On Slippers Estate, which was granted planning permission last week, residents say the council had created a carpark on what was previously greenspace, allowing them to claim that the development replaced car parking. In July, construction began at Peckham Green despite passionate local opposition.

More on this story at Southwark News

Play news
A new report from the Early Intervention Foundation argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has “negatively impacted” children’s physical development.
London Play Press Releases
The Garfield Weston Foundation has thrown its support behind a play-led recovery for children in London over the coming year, with a generous £20,000 grant to London Play. 

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Tower Hamlets’ Mayor John Biggs has spoken out about how vital play is for children as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, as a new playground at Millwall Park opens.

Mayor joins five-year-old David at Millwall Park – Credit: Rehan Jamil/East London Advertiser

A children’s playground has been opened at Millwall Park to help families get back to normal after months of lockdown. It is designed with safety surfacing for youngsters of all abilities, including those with special needs or disabilities. There are also benches and picnic tables where families can have time together and meet the neighbours.

Children were invited to test the play equipment by mayor John Biggs with a day of activities. He said:

“Play is vital for young people’s physical and mental development. It’s important to our recovery from Covid-19 and will make a difference to families.”

The facility is part of Tower Hamlets Council’s £10million kitty set aside to bring the East End’s 60 parks and open spaces up to modern standards.

For more on this story visit the East London Advertiser.

Play news
A new report from the Early Intervention Foundation argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has “negatively impacted” children’s physical development.
Play news
Parents are worried that the loss of freedom to play during the pandemic could have a long term impact on their children.

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
 

One in four 10-11 year olds is now classified as obese, following a year in which children spent weeks in lockdown and representing an unprecedented single year increase in childhood obesity levels.

Obesity levels rocketed in both reception class and year 6 groups by more than four percentage points between 2019-20 and 2020-21. The increase is the highest rise in a single year, since the National Childhood Measurement Programme began 15 years ago.

The figures show that almost one in seven children is already obese when they begin primary school in England. Among four and five year olds, the rates of obesity rose from 9.9 per cent in 2019-20 to 14.4 per cent in 2020-21.  By the time they are aged 10 or 11, more than a quarter are obese. In just 12 months, the rate is up from 21 per cent in 2019-20 to 25.5 per cent in 2020-21.

Tam Fry, the chairman of the National Obesity Forum, told the Guardian that the figures would “likely end any hope” that the government would succeed in its mission to halve childhood obesity in England by 2030.

“The figures are staggering and even worse than the forum feared. For two years we have had reports of children increasingly being kept at home because of Covid restrictions, endlessly snacking on junk food on top of the amount they regularly eat at meal times, and prevented from being able to play with friends to burn off excess calories.”

See more on the Guardian article here.

Play news
Parents are worried that the loss of freedom to play during the pandemic could have a long term impact on their children.
London Play Press Releases
The harm caused to children by keeping adventure playgrounds closed is now beginning to outweigh the risks of opening them, says a leading expert in health and safety.

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Islington’s Barnard Adventure Playground has been named London’s Adventure Playground of the Year today as the hotly anticipated annual event returned to the West End with a squeal and a roar (and a few rude squelchy sounds too)! Playgrounds in Merton, Lambeth and Hackney also came away with awards.

Knights, dragons and princesses at Barnard AP

Around 200 excited children from across the capital converged on the Prince Charles Cinema today to watch the films they had made about the places they love to play up on the big screen; and take part in some very welcome live pandemonium after covid forced proceedings online last year.

The film from the winning playground used Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ as the soundtrack, and left viewers in no doubt that 2021 had been a summer to remember for the young residents of Islington who play there. Children were shown growing pumpkins, dressing up, making go karts, slinging mud, having cardboard slide races and swinging from way, way up high. But it was clear that it is the people – the friends and playworkers at the playground – that are its ‘secret ingredient’. Selena, aged 10 said:

“Barnard is the best because I love Sarah [playworker].”

Stanley, also 10, added: “Barnard has a lot of space to have fun and you are able to meet new people soon because so many people go there.” Or, as Bruce put it: “I want to know if love is wild… Oh, will you walk with me out on the wire?”

Children at Redbridge’s ELHAP, London Adventure Playground of the Year in 2019, decided on the winner. Barnard was up against three other finalists: Lambeth’s Tulse Hill, Islington’s Waterside and Tower Hamlets’ Roman Road adventure playgrounds. Of Barnard the ELHAP judges commented approvingly: “I liked the children shouting,” and, “They had a huge variety of things.” The winning prize is a pizza and ice cream party at their playground.

Acacia coolest award
Acacia AP Coolest Place to Play Award

The Coolest Place to Play award was won by Merton’s Acacia Adventure Playground, whose film featured a very cool snail named Felicia and some dizzying nest swing action.  A tutorial on making ‘ugly potion’ as a kind of therapeutic and safe revenge was a highlight of the ‘Best Flick’ film from Lambeth’s Triangle Adventure Playground. Meanwhile summer at London’s ‘Most Inclusive’ playground – Hackney’s Homerton Grove – looked like one big, long and of course, very welcoming party!

The event also featured the West End premiere of a short film from London Play about a specially adapted play street project that was run during the last national covid lockdown. The Play Street Carousel film featured older and younger residents on locked down streets across the capital on camera, sharing their favourite street games and looking forward to playing them in person when restrictions lifted.

London Play’s chair, Melian Mansfield said:

“Congratulations to Barnard, Acacia, and Triangle on their awards – and all the groups that made these wonderful films showing us how very important adventure playgrounds are in the lives of young Londoners. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, we must ensure that these vital places are celebrated, promoted and protected for children, now and in the future.

“Play is seen by some as frivolous but it is hugely important and never more so than today. The Play Street Carousel film demonstrates how play on the doorstep has the power to bring people together across cultures and generations. London Play will not give up fighting for more and better play opportunities for London’s children.”

See the shortlisted films below – or the gallery under for images from the awards event. For media enquiries and more high-resolution pictures of the event and/or winning playgrounds please contact Fiona Sutherland via info@londonplay.org.uk.

 

London Play Press Releases
A fortnight of ‘Formula Fun’ go kart building excitement will kick off in The Regent’s Park this weekend, where the charity London Play is staging the first in a series of pop-up events for children across central London this summer.
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.

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.
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Record numbers of children and young people are being referred to mental health services for crisis and non-crisis care, as the toll of the pandemic on the country’s mental health is revealed in a new analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Eighteen months after the first lockdown and after warnings from the mental health sector about the long-lasting mental health impact of the pandemic, the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ analysis of NHS Digital data found that:

  • 190,271 0–18-year-olds were referred to children and young people’s mental health services between April and June this year, up 134% on the same period last year (81,170) and 96% on 2019 (97,342).
  • 8,552 children and young people were referred for urgent or emergency crisis care between April and June this year, up 80% on the same period last year (4,741) and up 64% on 2019 (5,219).
  • 340,694 children in contact with children and young people’s mental health services at the end of June, up 25% on the same month last year (272,529) and up 51% on June 2019 (225,480).

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling on the new education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to make children and young people’s mental health needs a top priority. He must ensure that all schools have clear plans in place to respond to pupils’ mental health needs and increase investment in staff training to improve the roll-out of Mental Health Support Teams.

Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“These alarming figures reflect what I and many other frontline psychiatrists are seeing in our clinics on a daily basis. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the nation’s mental health, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that children and young people are suffering terribly.”

More here

Play news
The number of children seeking help for mental health problems increased by 28% during the pandemic, new figures have revealed.

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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.

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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.

Resident Sue Ahmad was “shocked and angered” when she was told that there would be a charge of £234 to renew the licence for a play street that has been running in Thornton Heath since 2018. Her street, Livingstone Road is closed to through traffic for three hours on every second Sunday of the month Between March and October,

“The decision to introduce this charge seems very short-sighted, particularly now; when communities have suffered through more than a year of isolation and separation.”

The council confirmed on June 4 that a £234 charge would be levied to pay the costs of advertising the road closure, despite it not being a legal requirement.

In a letter to Cabinet Member for Sustainable Croydon Cllr Muhammad Ali, London Play deputy director Fiona Sutherland wrote: “The decision to introduce this charge seems very short-sighted, particularly now; when communities have suffered through more than a year of isolation and separation, accompanied by a marked decline in the mental and physical health of both children and adults.  Play streets are a cheap and easy resident-led initiative which mitigate exactly these negative impacts. Now more than ever, they should be encouraged.”

A petition challenging the council organised by play street organiser Siobhain O’Hanlon attracted 600 signatures and then yesterday Cllr Ali confirmed on Twitter that Croydon Council “has always supported play street events and will continue to support anyone who wants to organise a play street without any charges.” Officers at the council confirmed there would be no charge and that the earlier notices had been sent ‘in error’. 

Play news
Parents are worried that the loss of freedom to play during the pandemic could have a long term impact on their children.
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.

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 London Play is one of many organisations behind the #SummerOfPlay campaign, to give children the space, time, and freedom to play this summer as Covid-19 restrictions are eased. Can your organisation join the pledge?

For more than a year, children across the UK have been forced to spend time indoors, inactive and isolated from friends due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is not surprising that we have seen unprecedented increases in children’s mental health problems and loneliness, alongside reduced physical activity.

In response, child psychologists, paediatricians and educators have independently and urgently called for play to be central to children’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and many others agree. Together we now are calling for everyone to help make this summer a #SummerOfPlay for children across the UK.

“After everything children have been through over the last year, we are calling on organisations to sign the pledge to support children’s play this summer.”

To join the #SummerOfPlay campaign, please take the pledge to enable all children, in all our communities, to have space and time for play this summer by supporting fun, friends, and freedom.

Sign the pledge 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.
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.

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
 

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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