A letter from the co-Directors

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Dear supporters of Playing Out

After 12 years of running Playing Out alongside other brilliant people, including co-founders Amy and Naomi, our wonderful voluntary Board members and our Expert Friends at key times, we have both decided it is time for a change, for us personally and for the organisation.

We are still both deeply committed to the aim of changing things for children that prompted us to set up Playing Out and still drives it. Towards this, we plan to focus more on campaigning, writing and thinking/policy/ideas around the wider change needed for children’s freedom and right to space – where we feel we have unique things to offer – and to hand over the day-to-day management and leadership of this amazing change-making organisation to someone new.

Playing Out is in a strong and stable place now, with a great team, clear plans, important partnerships, good funding relationships, reputation, influence, reach and seemingly never-ending new opportunities arising – and yet still so much more to be done!  It’s the perfect time for someone new to come in, take the organisation forward and grow the movement to a ‘tipping point’, where the bottom-up play street/playing out model is completely normal and accessible to everyone everywhere and things are starting to shift for children more fundamentally.

Our plans

We aim to have new leadership in place by January 2023 and the two of us will step aside to become “Associates” to Playing Out, working on specific projects/strands of work and supporting the transition. We will also both remain on the Board for this first year, helping to support the organisation and new leadership, practically and strategically. After this time, we will all assess how it’s working for everyone and the wider impact we are managing to create. We are very conscious of the need to ensure a smooth, effective and professional transition.

We will be advertising the new CEO post throughout September and would hugely welcome help in getting this out far and wide in the search for the talented and energetic leadership this organisation and movement needs and deserves. We particularly want to make sure we reach candidates from currently under-represented groups and will be actively taking steps towards this.

What are we looking for?

It would be wonderful to find someone who already understands the issues and aims of the organisation: namely, restoring ALL children’s freedom to play out and get around safely where they live for their health, wellbeing and sense of belonging. However the essential qualities are strong leadership and management skills, ambition for bringing about change and a good understanding of the importance of inclusive, bottom-up, community-led action. The job will be formally advertised in September and we are also happy to talk to anyone who is interested informally about the role.

Your views

It has been a big decision for us to get to, with a lot to consider. We have also consulted with many key people in our network and it feels good to be at our final shape, where a new CEO will take Playing Out forward, supported by us as Associates and by the whole Playing Out board.

At the same time, the next chapter is never about just one person – as we know from all that our amazing and diverse network of parents, residents, small and large organisations has done so far. System change of the kind we all care about and want is always a collective endeavour. So at this moment of change, we’re also very interested to hear from you about the future of Playing Out. How do we get more people involved in lots of different ways? How do we keep the momentum building? How do we continue in our efforts to reach diverse communities and children who are marginalised? What structures and processes might be needed to maximise change together? What do you think is important for the organisation and movement for the years ahead? Any ideas for opportunities, connections and change-making – or things to avoid?

One idea we will explore is growing Playing Out’s membership – perhaps opening it up to anyone who has organised a play street, which would be simple and diverse – to ensure the organisation remains grassroots and connect our community activist base to strategy, system change and governance. Any thoughts on that too? The next few months is the time to give us any feedback and we hugely value every single one of you and your thoughts.

And finally…

Alice and Ingrid at Pride of Sport 2019

We are really proud of all we have collectively achieved so far with what started as conversations between parents wanting things to be different for children. Playing Out, with support and hard work from all of you, can genuinely claim to have helped spark an international street play movement and raised the issue of children’s need for greater freedom much higher up the agenda. Tens of thousands of children, parents and residents have benefitted and taken action in their communities, changing them for the better in so many different ways.

Yet there is so much more to do. Children have been through a huge amount over the past few years and the need to restore their freedom to play together and to belong has never been greater, even while the political challenges are immense.

And there is hope. We have seen – time and again – the powerful impact on children’s health and happiness when they have this freedom, the power of communities coming together to change things, and the huge amount we can all achieve together when we set our minds to it. In all of this, play streets are both an amazing enabler of change and a platform to speak from, and think what might be possible over the next 10 years! We strongly feel that this change of leadership is the right thing for the organisation and movement at this point and we are very excited to see the next stage of Playing Out.

Thank you so much for your belief and support and helping Playing Out to get to this point. We know that the new CEO, whoever she or he is, will be very lucky to have that too.


Alice and Ingrid