The Association of Play Industries has today written to the Prime Minister and Ministers Matt Hancock and Robert Jenrick, urging the UK Government to match the commitment to children’s outdoor play recently pledged by Scotland’s First Minister, throughout the entire UK. Nicola Sturgeon has promised a £60m fund to renew every play park in Scotland, so that all children have access to a place to play in their own community.
API Chair Mark Hardy, says: “All children throughout the UK need and deserve a similar promise on play. Away from the home, children spend more time playing in public playgrounds than any other place.
“And yet there has been an alarming and sustained decline in the number of playgrounds in recent years, leaving millions of children with nowhere to play. Children from the most disadvantaged areas, and those from the 1 in 8 UK households without gardens, are the most affected.
“The Government must now match the funding pledge of the SNP who have seized upon the groundswell of public appreciation for shared, public spaces such as parks and community playgrounds,” says Mark.
“Lockdown has made the public acutely aware of the vital role these spaces have in the nation’s health and wellbeing. Free-to-access, local playgrounds are crucial for children’s physical, mental and emotional health and never more so than now, after over a year of restrictive measures.
“The pledge made to the Scottish electorate is also a timely response to the growing calls for children to be placed at the heart of Government policies to ‘Level Up’ and ‘Build Back Better’ post-pandemic, beginning with a ‘Summer of Play’.
“Children and young people have experienced severe disruption and hardship for a virus which barely affects them, and every attempt should be made by Government to reverse these effects so that they are not blighted by them for the rest of their lives.”
The Government is now presented with a rare opportunity to mitigate the damage to children caused by lockdown and to support their health and wellbeing for generations to come, with one simple yet powerful public health measure: the UK urgently needs a national network of sustainable public play spaces to support children’s health.
“It is now essential that the Government sets out a clear plan for investment in outdoor play, so that all children from all backgrounds across the UK have access to community, doorstep playgrounds,” continues Mark. “There is a real danger that these spaces could disappear for good with catastrophic effects on children’s mental and physical health unless the Government acts now.”
The API has also written to the Scottish First Minister to thank her and to urge her to ensure that the funds reach those communities and children that need it the most.
Notes to Editors
The Association of Play Industries (API) www.api-play.org is the lead trade body within the play sector and campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition for play. Its members are leading manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safety surfacing. Founded in 1984, the API represents 85% of the play industry.
The API operates under the umbrella of the Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA), the national trade body responsible for representing Sports and Play Associations in the UK’s sport and play industries. www.sportsandplay.com
Mary Lubrano, Head of Communications. For further comment contact Mary on e: [email protected] m: 07999 550452