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Letter to Local Authorities on Playgrounds

Some local authorities in England have started to close children’s playgrounds despite government guidance that is specific about keeping them open.

Play England and a group of academics, scientists, play experts and charities have written the attached open letter calling on them to put the well being of children first.

Read our letter here.

Play England have been quoted in articles by both the BBC and the Observer/Guardian on this topic.

We’d love to hear what you think about this so please comment below.

(6) Comments

  1. Anita Grant says:

    Good to hear from you Grant. Play England supports children’s play wherever, whenever and the more creative, child led, exciting, magical and amazing the better. As we all know, children will adapt and thrive and access to free play will help it happen building resilience, independence and confidence.
    We all also know we are in the depths of a pandemic and full lockdown with families literally unsure whether they are allowed to leave the house at all.
    We have called on councils to do what they can to support children getting to play outside. We believe that keeping their playgrounds open, free to use and symbolising children’s space is the least they can do. And evidently too much for some!
    The letter is, as you carefully point out, a partnership between many different organisations who care about children playing outside and we are proud to be part of a collaborative and constructive approach keeping the child at the heart of what we do and we hope you will remain a supporter!

  2. Grant Lambie says:

    Putting my unstaffed playgrounds should close down/removed (mainly looking at KFC’s which are about 95% of all playgrounds) hat on, this is my breakdown of the letter:

    The whole letter makes the assumption that there is some connection between play and playgrounds. Looking at the references from the letter they read like this.

    Ref 1, Gov.UK, talks of playgrounds, and say “outdoor structures designed for children to play on…..’ but does not quote source.

    Ref 2, This article talks of freeplay and not playgrounds at all.

    Ref 3, This does not talk about playgrounds at all, but about playing out, so not directed at playgrounds.

    Ref 4, Of course IPA talks about playgrounds, but does not talk about play.

    Ref 5, HSE site Not secure, can not comment on this.

    Ref 6, This paper talks mostly about playing out and does not connect play and playgrounds.

    Looking at a young person, I would say they are constantly changing, individual and creative beings. So why do we give them unchanging (playground may be there for plus 10 years), non-creative (design by someone else), standardised (same around the whole country, if not the world) places to play in.

    I know of no paper which looks a play in KFC playground which gives it any positive feedback

    Play in playgrounds is a myth. This is a massive mission creep by Play England, directly supporting API in its role of cover the planet with unfit street furniture.
    I will contemplate if this is the right organisation for me to support.

  3. Anita Grant says:

    We absolutely agree! The environment needs to become child focused with play opportunities everywhere.
    Our current focus on playgrounds is because the signal that play and children’s freedom is a fundamental right and allowed under current guidance due to the benefits and low incidence of outside transmission among children is really important. Especially for families living in challenging circumstances.
    We will continue to lobby for more play opportunities for all children in anyway that we can.

  4. Kerry says:

    I think, what you have to look at is that this virus is fatal for the over 80’s. How many of those want to use the playgrounds??? The younger you are, the less significant risk of fatalaties from the virus. I know all about the “don’t kill granny” mentality, but my parents would rather let my daughter enjoy her childhood and play in the park than stop her doing that on their behalf. They don’t want her to stop having a childhood. Children need to play with other children. If you are worried, then don’t let your children play on them but don’t insist that those of us who aren’t too afraid to live, stop aswell. Please do your research on the “asymptomatic” (healthy people) spread of the disease.
    Now they are vaccinating the elderly, we need “normality” to resume as soon as possible. The detrimental effect on childrens mental health will stay with us for a long time, we are in danger of creating many broken adults the more restrictions we put on our little ones.

  5. I agree that the focus on playgrounds is problematic for those reasons. It’s also symptomatic of what has been done to children’s play/freedom over the past 40 years – we’ve reduced play to just “what children do in playgrounds” and made it very difficult (through physical and societal barriers) for them to play elsewhere. But the playgrounds closing, as well as taking away the one safe/playable place available for many families who don’t have big parks or other spaces nearby, is also symbolic. People are already uncertain whether play is allowed within the rules but playgrounds being open signifies that it is. Closing them could have the opposite effect, making parents feel even less confident about taking/letting kids out to play. But absolutely agree that this needs to be a moment to look at what more needs to be done to enable children to play anywhere and everywhere!

  6. Yvette Haimes says:

    Actually, having watched the behaviour in the playground areas of my local park I feel very strongly that they should be closed. I absolutely agree that children need the opportunity to be outside and to run around but they do not need fixed equipment in a small space to use their physicality and imagination. I think they would be better served by being offered other types of open spaces, especially if there is a lack of parks nearby, for example by having play streets arranged, by liaising with local businesses, schools and colleges to offer up open space. Again, in my local park the tennis courts have been closed (which offer a perfect space for children to run, play ball, skip etc.) while the spacially restricted areas are over subscribed by children and adults all behaving in the ways that these age groups of people do behave, which is not good during what is now a crisis of contamination. Yes, some children will be better off because they have gardens, parks, woods and beaches nearby, but with a little more imagination on the part of local authorities and other concerned adults there are other solutions than play parks.

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