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.
It has been a tough couple of years for London’s children. The pandemic has disrupted their schooling, play, friendships and home lives; and as we head into winter, they continue to face significant uncertainty. The proportion of children living in poverty (40 per cent prior to the outset of the pandemic) has grown. With the £20 cut to Universal Credit last month, an additional 70,000 children in London joined them. It is no surprise that young people’s mental health has deteriorated; and two thirds of parents are concerned about the long-term impact of the pandemic and associated lockdowns on their children’s wellbeing.
“We are hugely grateful to the Garfield Weston family for their support and recognition of the crucial importance of play for children in London. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic this grant will help provide London Play with the stability needed to adapt and respond to the challenges ahead.”
Melian Mansfield, London Play chair
Play will not solve all the problems that children face, but it will help them cope. Some 74 per cent of parents agree that play has helped their children deal with the negative impacts of the pandemic. Despite this, opportunities to play – spaces and services – continue to decline. Play Association Tower Hamlets closed earlier this year after 19 years; Southwark Council is building new housing on vital green spaces including Peckham Park and Bells Gardens; and adventure playgrounds are struggling to survive.
London Play has its work cut out over the coming year and beyond to ensure that the crucial importance of play in children’s lives is understood by decision makers and so prioritised. We are committed to further improving and preserving opportunities for play in London and have plenty of ideas for innovative, fundable projects to do this. Over the last tumultuous 18 months we have delivered emergency play parcels to 6,000 children and supported adventure playgrounds to open for 2,000 otherwise excluded children. This summer alone we put play front and centre of London’s great reopening, staging a series of colourful popup go kart build and race events across the capital; took 60 children into the wilds of Essex to camp and build; and brought residents on streets across the capital closer together through the simple power of play.
We love doing projects like these! But like many charities we struggle to fund the less tangible aspects of our work such as organisational development, administration, and fundraising; without which we could not do all the ‘fun stuff’. The grant from the visionary trustees at Garfield Weston Foundation will provide London Play with some much-needed stability to navigate the fast-changing waters ahead.