A new Parliamentary Committee report has called for investment in the UK’s playgrounds to halt and reverse the alarming decline in their numbers and safeguard children’s mental health.

Outdoor play is now more important than ever and the recent restrictions have highlighted how essential public playgrounds are to children’s health and wellbeing.

The new report – Covid Generation: A Mental Health Pandemic in the Making – by the APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, involved 41 organisations and academics including the Association of Play Industries. It calls for a major investment in public, free-to-use play spaces to help reverse the negative impact on children of repeated lockdowns.

Research carried out by the Association of Play Industries showed that spending in recent years on play facilities has fallen by 44 per cent since 2017/18, with 347 playgrounds closed since 2014.

API Chair, Mark Hardy says: “The lack of outdoor play and the amount of time spent alone, inactive and on screens, is fuelling the unprecedented rise in children’s mental health problems.


“Playgrounds are a lifeline to communities. For children in disadvantaged areas and the 1 in 8 UK households without a garden particularly, they are often the only opportunity for free, outdoor play.


“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.


“One simple yet powerful public health measure – investment in a national network of sustainable public play spaces – would dramatically improve the lives of millions of children.”

In a Telegraph article today, lead author of the APPGFHC report, Helen Clark, said the mental health crisis among the young was “a ticking time bomb,” with psychiatrists warning that the fallout from lockdown could be the greatest threat to mental health since  the second world war.


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

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