The response to our research, which uncovered a steep decline in England’s provision of playgrounds, has been extraordinary. The Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Mail and Times all ran the story. With public support from over ten notable organisations, including government departments, along with national radio and online coverage, Nowhere to Play has certainly struck a chord with the media and public alike.
It’s encouraging to know that play is valued so highly and recognised as fundamental to children’s wellbeing. Play is so vital to children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development, that unless we protect our play spaces the childhood obesity epidemic will worsen and children’s mental health will continue to decline.
Play is clearly something that people care very deeply about, and rightly so. We have now a rare opportunity to capitalise on this momentum – to make a real difference for children today and for future generations.
I believe also, that the recent call for a snap general election represents a further opportunity for play. As the political parties clamour for our votes over the next few weeks, they will listen if enough of us tell them what we care about. So, in the run-up to the election, we will be asking the political parties to prioritise play provision in their manifestos.
Let’s remind ourselves of the aims of Nowhere to Play:
A relatively modest investment now would generate a huge return for our young people. Every political party, every government, makes choices about how it spends and invests our money. #Nowhere2Play has uncovered a groundswell of opinion that the provision of decent play spaces isn’t a ‘Cinderella’ issue – it’s one that touches us all.
Could play provision easily slip back down the political agenda if we let it? What about the other vital issues facing the electorate like education, the NHS and mental health services? How can we compete with those?
The answer is that play doesn’t have to compete with them. The importance of children’s play, along with getting children moving more generally, has a natural synergy with education and the mental and physical health of young people. Our campaign to make sure that children have somewhere to play should be seen as part of a larger movement and one from which we can draw support.
PS…. If you live near or know of a playground that has been closed or has been earmarked for closure, please let us know immediately. Such closures often have a profound effect on their communities – the more we can demonstrate this the stronger our case for playground provision will be.