Two policy reports published this week both, from very different angles, highlight the urgency of restoring children’s ability to play out safely in their own neighbourhoods. With other play organisations, experts and campaigners, we urge the Government to take note and take action.
On Monday, the “No Place Left Behind” commission urged Government to take a levelling-up approach that starts with simply creating better, healthier, more child-friendly places to live, using the “tricycle test” as a measure of a good neighbourhood. This was swiftly followed by the new Children’s Commissioner’s report on her “Big Ask” survey, which found that – contrary to the screen-addicted image often portrayed – this generation of children “want to be outside, in the real world…in open spaces, and to play”.
This is no big surprise. But children’s freedom to play outside, with all its proven health and developmental benefits, has drastically reduced over the past 50 years due in large part to increased traffic on our streets and decreased tolerance of children in public space. As a result, their mental and physical health are in crisis and the pandemic has only exacerbated this “creeping lockdown” children have been subjected to. Things need to change, now more than ever, and we hope these new reports will prompt swift and serious Government action to address the very real barriers to children simply playing out where they live.
Alice Ferguson and Ingrid Skeels, Playing Out
Toby Lloyd, Chair, No Place Left Behind: The Commission into Prosperity and Community Placemaking
Dan Paskins, Save the Children UK
Dr Dan O’Hare and Dr Melernie Meheux, British Psychological Society
Anita Grant, Play England
Mike Greenaway, Play Wales
Marguerite Hunter Blair, Play Scotland
Paul Hocker, London Play
Meynell Walter, International Play Association England
Mark Hardy, Association of Play Industries
Dr Wendy Russell, University of Gloucestershire
Professor Alison Stenning, Newcastle University
Dr Sunil Bhopal, Great North Children’s Hospital
Tim Gill, author of Urban Playground
Ben Tawil and Mike Barclay, Ludicology
Dinah Bornat RIBA, ZCD Architects
Emma Bearman, Playful Anywhere
Carley Sefton, Learning through Landscapes
Jenny Wood, A Place in Childhood
Dr Helen Dodd, University of Exeter