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Ingrid Skeels

News from the Playing Out movement Dec 2019/Jan 2020

posted this in Activism on 20/12/2019

In last January’s blog – Want to see more children play out in 2019? – we set out our stall for the year:

  • Support many more UK parents and residents to come together to help children play out.
  • Push for clearer Government guidelines on play streets, so more councils can back residents
  • Start to call for bigger policy change, so all children can be safer to play out every day. Surely something so essential to health, well-being and community can’t only be the responsibility of parents to organise once a week or month?

Here are some key things we – and you – achieved together, and where we’re starting from in 2020.

The movement keeps growing…

Well over 1,000 street and estate communities around the UK have now held regular street play sessions, and these are just the ones we know about. That’s over 30,000 children regularly playing out and 15,000 adults taking action! Many resident ‘activators’ are campaigning for their councils to put play street policies in place. Others are forming resident groups to spread the idea and change the cities and areas where they live. Want to start this on your street this year? Or could you be a street play activator? See our 2020 Activator Day info if so. We’d love to support you.

Councils are part of the change…

74 forward-thinking councils around the UK now have a street play policy or pilot in place and lots more are interested in how they can adopt one and support residents to take action. If your local council is keen or needs a push, see our Info for Council pages. We also have our second Local Authority Training Day coming up in February at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, thanks to our friends at British Cycling.

Government backing and guidance for play streets

Increased parent and community action, and our lobbying, finally paid off. Last summer the Minister of State for Transport wrote to all English local authorities endorsing play streets, and to all MPs asking them to encourage play streets in their constituencies. The Department for Transport then published new guidelines on play streets for councils.  You can read more on our July 2019 blog. We now need to push for further guidance and encourage all UK local authorities to get on board.

Playing Out and British Cycling

We began an exciting new collaboration with British Cycling in 2019, around our shared aim for streets to be safer for children to play out and cycle. The percentage of UK children able to ride a bike is in decline and the percentage of parents afraid to let their child cycle where they live is high. We launched a joint campaign to promote play streets in September, helped by Olympic cyclist Jason Kenny. British Cycling is also helping us to win over more local authorities in the North and to lobby for further play street guidance. We’re proud and excited to be working together and looking forward to more in 2020.

Playing Out: Pride of Sport winners 2019

The physical habits children learn early on can shape their physical activity levels and health for life. And for children, physical activity and sport begin with play. So we are very happy indeed to have won ‘Special Recognition’ for the Playing Out movement in the world of sport. Read more, watch our two minute Pride of Sport film and see us accept our award from top athletes (we’re at 1:14) and dedicate it to parents at the glittering awards ceremony. A moment we will treasure – and build on.

Bigger change…

Behind the scenes in 2019, we were thinking and talking much more about what needs to change so children everywhere can just play out day to day and get around where they live. And about how we can help that change to happen. We made a good start, continuing our link with the Children’s Commissioner’s  call for children’s freedom; managing to get a policy commitment on safer streets for play in the Labour Party Manifesto; and contributing to  ‘child friendly city’ work in Bristol and internationally.

In 2020 we want to take another step forward with this wider campaigning. Surely enough is known now about the urgency of children’s declining health and well-being, the dangers of traffic and pollution, and the importance of play, physical activity, community and independence to their lives for change to make total sense. It just needs us all to speak up together. Here’s to 2020!

Happy new year everyone, from all of us in the Playing Out team.

Come to our Activator Day: 28 March 2020


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