Children have the right and need to play. Every child should have access to safe, good quality places to play, near to where they live. London Play campaigns for more and improved spaces for play, and against downgrading, cuts and closures of existing play spaces.
No space at home: One in four children in London lives in an overcrowded home; and one in five Londoners do not have access to a garden. On both counts, London is the worst of any region in the country. For black and minority ethnic families, and in some parts of London, the lack of private space is even greater.
Decline in public play spaces: Given the deficiency in private play space, public parks and spaces take on crucial importance for London’s children and families. But this is also lacking. London has 19sqm of green space per person (34sqm is considered adequate) – the least of any region in England. This is declining, as local authorities sell off parks, close municipal play areas and defund adventure playgrounds to plug holes in their finances. In a three-year period alone, London councils sold off an area equivalent to 67 football pitches.
Streets off limits: streets, historically doubling as playgrounds for generations of children, make up 80 per cent of public space in London. Now they are dominated by private cars, parked and moving. Parked cars in London take up a space the size of the borough of Southwark and speeding traffic is a major deterrent.
London Play works to support adventure playgrounds and other play providers maintain, improve and sustain existing play spaces. We also spearheaded the ongoing play street revival in London, supporting residents to transform their streets regularly into safe, temporary play space.