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Play England appointed to support national play strategy

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has appointed Play England to help deliver the Government's vision for the future of play.

Play England will support and challenge local authorities receiving funding under the Government's new play pathfinder and playbuilder programmes.

As announced in The Children's Plan in December, all top-tier local authorities in England will receive around £1m to improve and develop their free play areas for children aged 8 -13 years. In addition, 30 pathfinder authorities will receive an extra £1m to build a new adventure playground or adventure play park and to implement other elements of the national play strategy launched in April with the consultation document, Fair Play. Play England will make immediate contact with the 20 play pathfinder and 43 playbuilder authorities already allocated funding.

Play England's role, working closely with Government Offices in the regions, will be to support local authority delivery, provide advice on good practice, promote support for the strategic measures of the play strategy, build the capacity of the voluntary and community sector and provide progress reports to the Department.

An early task will be to produce guidance on design principles for outdoor play areas, followed by a revision of its landmark Planning for Play guidance on producing and delivering area-wide play strategies.

Minister for Children, Kevin Brennan said: 'Children need more and better places to meet their friends and have fun so I am delighted to announce that Play England will be helping us in delivering more playgrounds and more exciting and innovative play for children, as set out in our consultation Fair Play. 
 
'As the national support body, Play England will support local councils in delivering our £235 million play investment programme. Play England have huge experience and expertise in this field. They have a thorough knowledge of play and the key stakeholders in this sector, and a clear methodology and implementation plan to support authorities. 
 
'Being able to burn off energy in unstructured play is an important part of growing up and maintaining a healthy weight and life. Under our play investment programme, children will get new and exciting adventure playgrounds, including 30 new adventure playgrounds and up to 3,500 play areas for our children.  
 
'The capital programme is a big part of our Children's Plan strategy to help improve the lives of children in this country and I want councils to work with Play England to make rapid progress on delivering the new and better play areas by 2011.'

Play England's director, Adrian Voce said: 'We are delighted to have been awarded this important contract. It will be a privilege to support the Government's bold ambitions for children's play and to work with local authorities to help them offer more and better play opportunities.

'This funding and the wider national play strategy should see children's play become central to both children's services and local planning frameworks for years to come. Building on our work with the Big Lottery Fund, this new contract confirms both the importance of a national support body for that process, and how far Play England has come.'

For more information on this release, please contact Clare Quarrell, Anna Tombs or Clare Lilley in NCB's media office on 020 7843 6044/6045/6047 or email media@ncb.org.uk

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Notes for editors:

1. Play England promotes excellent free play opportunities for all children and young people. Play England provides advice and support to promote good practice, and works to ensure that the importance of play is recognised by policy makers, planners and the public. Play England is part of NCB and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. For further information visit www.playengland.org.uk

2. NCB promotes the voices, interests and well-being of all children and young people across every aspect of their lives. As an umbrella body for the children's sector in England and Northern Ireland, we provide essential information on policy, research and best practice for our members and other partners. For further information visit www.ncb.org.uk

3. The Big Lottery Fund's Children's Play initiative is a £155 million programme. As part of this, BIG has awarded a grant of £15 million to NCB to establish Play England as the national organisation for play. The project offers support and advice to local authorities and agencies to help them develop play strategies and access grants from BIG's £124 million Children's Play programme. BIG has also made an additional £16 million available for Playful Ideas, an initiative that will fund novel play projects which focus on innovation and new ways of providing children's play.

Full details of the Big Lottery Fund projects and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

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