It is essential that children can get outside and be active, for their health and wellbeing. Last spring/summer, too many children were trapped indoors due to confusion about the rules. Children and parents are now facing another long period of lockdown and this must not happen again. As a coalition of play advocates, we are calling on the UK Government to recognise the importance of outdoor play for children during this time and to make this possible within the rules.
If you’d like to support this, please write to your MP. Here is a template letter along with information on how to contact your MP.
An open letter to Boris Johnson
Dear Prime Minister
Please prioritise children’s wellbeing during this third lockdown in England. Children’s mental and physical health has suffered enormously already and the potential impact of a further extended period without school or normal social interaction is unthinkable.
For children, playing outside (e.g. riding a bike, scooting, kicking a ball around) is an important way to be active, let off steam and interact with the world around them. It is essential for their mental and emotional wellbeing – and for their physical health. This is especially crucial now that children do not have access to either school playtime or after-school sports.
The Welsh government has recognised the significant benefits of outdoor play for children in their Covid guidance, clearly stating that children are allowed to play outside near home. In Scotland, the restrictions around meeting outdoors do not apply to children under 12.
In England however, whilst we welcome the fact that playgrounds remain open, there is currently no clarity for parents on whether informal outdoor play in public space is permitted under lockdown. For children, play is an important form of exercise but this needs to be made explicit by the government so parents can feel confident about letting their children play out without being fined or criminalised.
Along with the Children’s Commissioner for England, we therefore call on the UK government to provide clear, unambiguous guidance that outdoor play is allowed during lockdown, for children’s health and wellbeing. We further support the Children’s Commissioner’s call for children under 12 to be considered differently in the rules about meeting outdoors.
Alice Ferguson and Ingrid Skeels, Playing Out
Paul Hocker, London Play
Anita Grant, Play England
Dr Wendy Russell, University of Gloucestershire
Adrian Voce OBE, Playful Planet
Professor Alison Stenning, Newcastle University
Dr Helen Dodd, Playfirst UK / University of Reading
Dr Jenny Wood, A Place in Childhood
Ben Tawil and Mike Barclay, Ludicology
Tim Gill, Independent researcher and writer on childhood
Meynell Walter, International Play Association England
Michael Follett, Outdoor Play and Learning
Carley Sefton, Learning through Landscapes
Helen Griffiths, Fields in Trust
Mark E Hardy, Association of Play Industries
David Yearley, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
Rob Wheway, Children’s Play Advisory Service
Professor David Ball, Middlesex University
Stevie Edge-McKee, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
Dr Sunil Bhopal, Newcastle University
Sally Watson, Newcastle University
Kathryn Solly, Keeping Early Years Unique
Melian Mansfield, Early Childhood Forum
Further signatories to be added
Download the open letter here.