A survey of practitioners has overwhelmingly endorsed the initiative to create a new membership body for playwork.
The survey, which ran from December 2014 to March 2015, received 155 responses from playwork practitioners, including managers, trainers, lecturers, researchers, campaigners and development workers, as well as face-to-face playworkers.
95 per cent of those responding replied ‘yes’ to the question, ‘do you think playwork needs a new body in the UK?’.
96 per cent of respondents to the survey said they would be interested in joining such a body if it was formed, with more than 76 per cent saying they would be either ‘extremely interested’ or ‘very interested’ in joining.
The survey also asked about priorities for a new body. Top of these, according to the aggregated responses, should be:
- ‘to represent playwork and playworkers; giving us a collective voice’; followed closely by
- ‘raising the status of playwork and improving the standing of playwork jobs’;
- ‘campaigning for playwork – promoting it nationally and supporting local campaigns’; and
- ‘influencing policy-making – to create a legal and regulatory framework that would support authentic playwork services’.
‘Working to create (or become) a professional body for playwork’ was the fifth priority for respondents.
Some respondents’ comments showed that, whilst welcoming the initiative, they have some important caveats. A common concern was that a new body should not undermine the work that is already being done to support playwork and its development by other bodies, particularly Play Wales.
The steering group for the initiative presented the survey findings last week at the National Playwork Conference in Eastbourne, where they also set out their next steps for the project. These included setting up a new charitable organisation, developing a membership structure and planning for an inaugural general meeting where founding members could meet and elect its first board.
Steering group members, Karen Benjamin and Adrian Voce, who started the current initiative together after a meeting at Sheffield Hallam University in July 2013, said:
‘This is a big vote of support for the idea of a new representative body. Given our lack of resources to promote the survey, it was always going to be a small sample, but such a large majority in favour is a very positive result.
Now the hard work begins. We have quite intentionally kept the development work fully independent. Being owned by and accountable to members is one of the initiative’s guiding principles, derived from our consultation with the field.
‘This means we have to be self-sufficient, building slowly without funds until we are able to levy membership fees – which will then have to be modest, as we want the new body to be accessible to all those working or studying in the field.
‘We believe playwork is an important approach to working with children, which is often misunderstood and under-valued, and is currently lacking support. We think it needs its own independent body and our survey confirms that there are many people in the field who agree, although we also get the message loud and clear that whatever is created must complement and be careful not to undermine other efforts to support and develop the field’.
If you are interested in the initiative to create a new vehicle for playwork, please email email@example.com with ‘EOI’ (expression of interest) in the subject field.
on behalf of the Steering Group.