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Thinking creatively, working collaboratively

St.Pauls Adventure Playground
It is clear that 2016 offers many challenges for Play England and all those in the play sector. Despite the on-going cuts to play provision across the country, judging from the National Play Convention that took place earlier this month, there is a determination to defend children’s right to play.

This was also the prevailing mood at Play England’s Annual General Meeting, which took place in February. With a good turnout from members, we had a wide-ranging debate on our annual report and strategic direction. Particular thanks go to Wendy Russell for facilitating the Conversation about Play England and Phil Doyle for his presentation on ‘Design for Play’.

Access to play has been highlighted by the excellent report from Sense ‘The Case for Play’. It reveals that disabled children in England and Wales are missing out on play opportunities that are vital to their development. Play England welcomes the report and I am absolutely delighted that Steve Rose from Sense is our guest blogger for this month. Read his blog here.

Finding new ways to share knowledge and building support networks are vital ways to help defend play provision. I hope that this new regular blog will help contribute to the key debates taking place within the play sector. If you would like to contribute, please do let me know.

Having returned from the Four Nations Play Symposium at Stormont, hosted by PlayBoard Northern Ireland, I found it incredibly heartening the very real progress being made in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, and I hope that we can share widely these successes to strengthen political support for play provision in Westminster. All of us at Play England are looking forward to working closely with PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play Scotland and Play Wales in future.

It is a great shame that Department of Health funding will not be renewed for Street Play. The project has engaged with 141 local authorities, with 33 councils now supporting regular street closures. Over 350 streets have participated, many in areas of disadvantage, thousands of additional play opportunities for children. We will continue to support our partners Playing Out and London Play and would urge members to champion streetplay in their areas.

With our partners Play Wales, PlayBoard Northern Ireland and Play Scotland we’ve launched a new Playday website, and do please look out for the launch of the 2016 theme coming soon!

A significant focus will also be placed on our work for the SAFERPLAY project. Play England has a central role helping create an innovative open-source training for Play across Europe. We will be sharing the learning and best practice from quarterly European conferences and are delighted to be hosting a conference in December.

Finally, I would like encourage friends, colleagues and family to become a member of Play England. It’s now much easier to join – you just sign-up and pay online. Thank you also, to those who have made generous donations. If you haven’t already, you can make a donation through our ‘Just Giving’ page.

I believe that thinking creatively and working collaboratively is the most effective way to build and sustain the movement for children’s play. I hope that throughout this year we can develop and strengthen our networks to help us in this task.

Click here to download the latest issue of Play England’s quarterly e-zine, Play today.

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