The Association of Play Industries has today released the following statement following the publication of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of the lockdown.
The API fully appreciates that the priority right now is to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further throughout the population and we support the current closure of playgrounds and outdoor gyms in this first stage of the gradual easing of lockdown.
However, apart from a brief mention in step one of the strategy re-enforcing what is not possible in respect of playgrounds, children’s outdoor play is not referenced again throughout the entire 50-page document.
The fundamental role that play has in children’s normal development has been completely overlooked. This is a cause of grave concern to all those with an interest in children’s mental and physical health. A number of experts in children’s mental health and development, have written to the government urging that children’s social and emotional wellbeing be prioritised in all decisions relating to the easing of lockdown.
Lockdown is a brutal measure to impose on all children but it has a disproportionately negative impact on the most disadvantaged in society. Those children with no access to outside space, in flats or houses without gardens, will be living a wholly different experience to those in more privileged areas. Free, community play provision for all is an essential public facility and goes a long way towards addressing children’s inequality.
The welfare of children is paramount in this crisis and whilst the priority is, of course, their safety, it is alarming that children’s right to play freely outdoors has not received any government attention. Playgrounds are a key way in which children will be able to heal from the effects of lockdown.
We are calling upon the government to set out the phase in which a return to children’s play in public playgrounds could be considered, and to outline the safety guidelines required so that playgrounds can operate safely when conditions allow. This is urgently needed to provide hope for children, parents and communities and also to allow local authorities to apply the modifications needed.
Update: UK Gov guidance – published 13.05.2020 – Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public places – urban centres and green spaces
Update: UK Gov guidance – published 12.05.2020 – Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings
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 on the Play Must Stay campaign contact Mary on e: [email protected] m: 07999 550452