10 challenges for the play movement in England in 2016

5 Jan


As the New Year gets under way, the seemingly never-ending squeeze on public services, coupled with the perennial under-valuing of children’s play by policy-makers in particular and adult society in general, conspire to paint a gloomy picture for the English play scene in 2016.

It is sometimes hard to see past on-going cuts to front line services, the creeping privatisation of provision and the dearth of serious new initiatives to promote and support children’s right to play in the face of the many barriers they continue to face.


Will 2016 see growing support for children to play in the streets?

Yet, throughout 2015, there were unexpected but welcome signs of growing support for the kind of government play policy that could really make a difference. Fractured as our movement and diminished as our capacity may be as a result of five years of austerity, the challenge of the New Year is to identify these opportunities, formulate a cohesive response to them and coalesce around a plan to turn them into substantive commitments. Here’s how.

  1. Develop play policy proposals … on the right basis
  2. Solicit wider support within Parliament
  3. Cultivate influential allies
  4. Pump up the volume through sympathetic media
  5. Grow support within the opposition
  6. Support local initiatives and engage local play champions
  7. Build our presence on social media
  8. Engage with national bodies to make them more effective
  9. Lobby ministers and opposition with persuasive proposals
  10. … and plans for how they can be delivered

None of these challenges would be easy in normal times. In the current prolonged period of hugely reduced public spending and the acute scarcity of resources for policy, development and campaigning work, they will be extremely hard to achieve – certainly with anything like the success of the previous decade. It may be that individuals and small groups, each addressing the agenda in their own way and within their own sphere of influence, will be more effective than any kind of national campaign. Over the coming weeks I will discuss each off them in turn and offer my thoughts on how to again secure political commitments to children’s play in England.

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On a personal note, 2015 saw more than 11,000 visits to the site: a modest figure by mainstream internet standards, I’m sure, but my most widely read blogging year to date.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!



5 Responses to “10 challenges for the play movement in England in 2016”

  1. Donne Buck 5 January 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    A very welcome initiative, Adrian. A top-down approach is inevitable but insufficient, as history has showed many times, including when I was Chair of Fair Play for Children. Perhaps you could give some thought to generating a bottom-up initiative also.

    Liked by 2 people

    • plexity 5 January 2016 at 9:20 pm #

      Totally agree, Donne.

      Adrian, I have some expertise in generating grass-roots initiatives using cunning methodologies developed during my sojourn at the Centre for Applied Nexial Studies. These were used to great effect in towns and cities across this once great nation of ours. I can offer advice. And support, and stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

    • adrianvoce 6 January 2016 at 11:47 am #

      Thanks Donne, that’s what I mean to imply by item six on the agenda; but, by definition, the bottom-up approach needs many local initiatives and I think these will or will not tend to happen regardless of what wonks like me have to say. My aim is to do my bit to influence the policy agenda that can make the difference as to whether such local movements can get the recognition, and access the resources, that they need to succeed – or not.


  2. play and other things 6 January 2016 at 11:25 am #

    Reblogged this on Play and Other Things….

    Liked by 1 person

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