At a Play England members meeting in 2015, entitled ‘Children’s Play – The Challenge Ahead’, a significant number of people agreed that now was the time to generate a wide-ranging discussion about Play England’s own future role; this discussion also to consider how the national body should go about its business. The emphasis was very much on looking forward in an open minded and mutually supportive way, aware of past and current initiatives and programmes, but not to be governed by these.
In an informal initiative generated by one of the discussion groups at the ‘Challenge Ahead’ meeting, Wendy Russell of the University of Gloucestershire and Bernard Spiegal of PLAYLINK wrote to those present in order to try and progress that conversation. Although Play England assented to the move, it was stressed that the initiative was independent of them. A copy of Wendy and Bernard’s letter can be read here.
The letter highlighted some discussion themes, saying that these included, but were not limited to:
- In what way, and by what means, can independent, dispassionate thought and talk be encouraged?
- How can play organisations, supporters and stakeholders work better together and support each other in the current political environment? How can we support each other?
- Should more reliance be placed on individuals to make voluntary commitments of time and energy to carry forward thinking and action in respect of play in England? Is it realistic to do so? (Ask not what Play England can do for you, but what you can do for play in England!).
- If ‘yes’ to the above, how might this be achieved, and what should be the relation between this voluntary endeavour and Play England?
- How might Play England and its supporters campaign on behalf of children’s play, and how might the diverse policy and commitment streams in the area of play be more fruitfully, more cohesively, inter-connected?
- How might Play England and its supporters better reflect the diversity of England’s population?
- Is there a need to make a decisive break with thinking that assumes progress can be made only if Play England is externally funded?
- To what extent, if any, should Play England involve itself in direct service delivery?
- How might more effective alliances be formed with non-play specific organisations, groupings and campaigns that nevertheless affect the practical realisation of the right to play?
- What are the major themes/issues ‘play’ should be addressing?
Wendy and Bernard then circulated, to all who had expressed an interest, their summary of the responses to their letter. A copy of this can be read here.
Since then, other than some further break out groups at Play England’s AGM in January, the conversation has stalled somewhat for want of a suitable platform. I have therefore agreed to provide this space, in order to
a) enable the conversation to continue on-line; and
b) provide opportunities for those interested in organising further face-to-face discussions to do so.
Whether you are a member of Play England or of the wider play community in England, and have a response to any of these, or other issues that you are willing to share, please use the comments section below.
If you would like to suggest or call a meeting to enable face-to-face discussions to continue, please use the separate page here to network and connect with others who may like to attend or host such meetings.
I will leave these pages open for as long as there are contributions being made to them (or I am asked to take them down!).
My only request is to please observe the simple rules of professional courtesy and try to focus on principles and issues rather than personalities.
9th March, 2016