New charity wins lottery support to revitalise high streets with “pop-up play shops”.

13 May

News Release, 13 May 2013

The new play charity, Pop-Up Adventure Play has been awarded a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards-for-All programme.

The money will enable the charity to explore the potential for a national scheme to help local groups establish “Pop-Up Play Shops” or PUPS, in disused high street premises.

As well as a feasibility study of the Pop-Up Shop’s potential for national development, the grant will also fund a tool-kit of resources for local groups who want to set up new play provision in their local area and lack suitable premises.

Morgan Leichter-Saxby, one of the charity’s directors said of the award: “Play provision for struggling families has never been more important, but play services are under massive pressure with many projects facing closure because of austerity measures. We wanted to start something that wouldn’t cost much money and which local groups could easily adopt for themselves”.

The charity’s co-director, Suzanna Law said: “We are thrilled to receive our first grant, which feels like a real vote of confidence in our ideas and our work up to this point”.

The Charity has appointed the former director of Play England, Adrian Voce OBE to research the project’s potential and produce the study. Voce said: “This project flies in the face of some current orthodoxies, which is partly why I was attracted to it. These new projects won’t be in nature but on the high street. There is currently a big emphasis on the importance of outdoor, “natural” play. This is great, but we want to remind people that the most important thing about play space is that it is where children can get to it”.

The project will begin immediately, aiming to publish the study and launch the toolkit in summer 2014.

Notes for Editors

The concept of the Pop-Up Play shop was successfully piloted by Morgan Leichter-Saxby and Suzanna Law, playworkers and researchers who are now the new charity’s directors, in one of Cardiff’s main shopping areas in 2011.

With no funding, Morgan and Suzanna themselves evaluated the pilot project, along with another Pop-Up play event they had organized. This was used as the basis for the bid to Awards-for-All.

PUAP LOGO (Spring 2012)

Pop-Up Adventure Play was awarded charity status by the Charity Commission early in 2013.

Morgan Leichter Saxby MA, one of Pop-Up Adventure Play’s co-founders, is a writer, researcher and playworker.  She has worked with the Museum of    Modern Art (NYC), Play England, City of Largo Florida, and the Alliance for Childhood.  She directly supports the development of play-based community events and programming in more than 8 different countries, including Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica and Egypt.

Morgan blogs at

Suzanna Law BA, Pop-Up Adventure Play’s other co-founder, graduated with a first class honours degree in Playwork in July 2012, having already been a playworker for seven years. She is a currently reading a PhD in Playwork with a focus on the Playwork Principles in the US. Suzanna manages the charity’s blog

 Adrian Voce has worked in children’s play since 1979 and was the first director of Play England, from 2006-11. He is a former director and chair of the national Children’s Play Council (2004-6) and was the first director of London Play (1998-2004). He is now a freelance consultant on play policy and play service development, and manages the specialist blog-site In 2011, Voce was awarded the OBE for services to children.

For more information please contact Suzanna Law:

07795 087204

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One Response to “New charity wins lottery support to revitalise high streets with “pop-up play shops”.”

  1. plexity 13 May 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Really pleased that Morgan and Suzanna have got the money for what I can’t resist calling their Portas Play Projects.

    Well done all.

    Wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t have a bunch of picky and technical points to make, though.

    ”we want to remind people that the most important thing about play space is that it is where children can get to it”.

    Crucial point. Nice counter to the nature fad.

    The vast majority of humans live in cities and don’t have Range Rovers to sweep us off to the Cotswolds. I can see several dangers with all this nature play malarkey:

    (tongue firmly in cheek as he makes serious points in a ludic fashion)

    1. it seems free, but is actually more managed and adult-mediated
    2. unfashionable and annoying equality issues related to transport, race, parental income, class, etcetera. Not many kids on the Mandela estate have 2 parents who are National Trust members. Sorry to get all Dave Spart on you.
    3. it does nothing to address issues of children’s access in the public realm. Bernard Spiegel has written compellingly on his blog on this topic recently.
    4. comes across as needing ‘experts’ with intimidating skills and qualifications to manage ‘risky’ things.

    Whereas PUPS*:

    1. remind the whole ‘public’ that children are citizens,
    2. and that play is part of everyday life
    3. advocates for play in spaces that are often contested (or controlled by corporations – shopping centres are not public rights of way in the main)
    4. sends positive messages about play, to counter the NO lists (no skateboarders, no heelies, no wheelies, no fun, just buy stuff)
    5. doesn’t present as ‘expert’ with intimidating skills and qualifications, it’s ‘just kids playing’.

    (BTW – *PUPS – I’m so pleased they dropped the A in Pop-up Adventure Play. I love what they do , but it is not adventure play, it is just play, and very fine, a point I have previously annoyed Morgan with.)


    Really pleased that you got the evaluation gig, Adrian.

    I expect you will widen the focus to include the socio-politics of the public realm, children’s rights, privatisation of public space and all that, as part of a broad evaluation of positive effects in a societal context, innit.

    Fair Play to you all!


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