Adrian Voce OBE


This website is managed and edited by Adrian Voce OBE,  a playworker, advocate, writer, consultant and campaigner for children’s right to play.

Adrian is the author of  Policy for Play (Policy Press, 2015) and, since November 2016, President of the European Network for Child-Friendly Cities.

Adrian was the main government advisor on the UK Government’s national Play Strategy for England (DCSF, 2008).

From 2004-2011, as chair, then director, of the Children’s Play Council and founding director of Play England, he played the key role in securing £390m of public funding for children’s play and led the support for every local authority in England to produce an area-wide play strategy as the basis for spending their share of the money.

This unprecedented period of national policy support for children’s play also saw Play England produce: government-endorsed guidance for planning, design and risk management in children’s play; a major academic literature review of play and public policy; and an innovative training and development programme in play principles for public realm professionals working in local authorities.

Previously, after a long career as a playworker, Adrian was the first director of London Play (1998-2004), securing policy commitments for children’s play from the London Mayor and drafting the Mayor’s guidance on play strategies for the London Boroughs. Under his leadership, London Play also built a number of successful independent play associations and developed the gold standard for quality assurance in staffed play provision in England: Quality in Play.

Adrian has produced a number of other influential publications and appeared often in the national media speaking and writing about play policy. He was awarded an OBE for services to children in 2011. In 2018-19 he set up a new vehicle for his advocacy work, Playful Planet, which was the main organiser of the major international conference, Towards a Child-Friendly City, in Bristol.

In 2020 Adrian was appointed as the part-time director of one of the world’s oldest adventure playgrounds, Lollard Street in North Lambeth.


Adrian is available for writing and consultancy work related to children’s play and can be contacted at

13 Responses to “Adrian Voce OBE”

  1. Mick Conway 26 November 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi Adrian – a test to see if I have managed to follow the blog and get notifications of new posts. Let me know if you get this. Third iteration of following you around the play world!


  2. Donne Buck 9 February 2016 at 11:34 pm #

    Despite nearly 80 years of proof that adventure playgrounds should form the apex of all local play provision if children are to gain most from their play, provision is reducing rather than expanding and current trends are all downhill. It is the presence of skilled staff, above all, that makes them different from all other forms of playground, yet it is become more and more difficult to provide them as the government makes it more and more costly to do so. The introduction of higher and higher minimum salaries and compulsory offers of pensions, will wipe many adventure playgrounds out of existence, especially those run by the voluntary sector. Here in Peterborough, where there was once a chain of voluntary and local authority adventure playgrounds across the city, all but one have been closed and the future for that one looks grim. This situation is true across the whole of Britain. Those of us with a life-long voluntary and professional commitment to children’s play locally, nationally and internationally are having to see the evidence of that 80 years assigned to history. We all need to consider how we can build on what Lady Allen of Hurtwood and all of us who followed her and stage a renaissance of children’s play provision as she did in the postwar years when there were only bombed sites for children to play on and no public funds to support adventure playgrounds. I hope that Adrian Voce’s work will spark something of this kind.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. How child-friendly is Moscow? | Rethinking Childhood - 11 December 2012

    […] Adrian Voce, who succeeded me as director at Play England, also spoke at the session. Introducing his take on the rise and fall of government interest in play, he shared a quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic exploration of human spirituality, The Brothers Karamazov, that beautifully captures the power and value of a good childhood: “People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education.” […]


  2. Lady Allen – the godmother of play – speaks | Rethinking Childhood - 24 June 2013

    […] in the late 1960s or early 70s. Thanks to London Play for uploading this video to Youtube, and to Adrian Voce and Marc Armitage for bringing it to my attention via […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Photographer Mark Neville explores childhood play after commission by The Foundling Museum | Policy for Play - 12 October 2016

    […] Adrian Voce – playworker, writer and former director of the campaigning body Play England – gives an overview of the national and international work in the field of child’s play, alongside a review of cultural representations of children at play and historical attitudes towards childhood, as seen through the prism of the Foundling Hospital, by curator Nicola Freeman. Copies of the book will be disseminated free to key policy makers and government departments, experts in the field, and to each of the UK’s 433 local councils, in order to directly impact upon government policy thinking and strategy. […]


  4. Child’s Play, Foundling Museum, February 2017 – Tincture of Museum - 7 February 2017

    […] use of photography is to affect social change. Accompanying the exhibition is a book written with Adrian Voce, play worker, writer and former director of the campaign body Play England. The book seeks to look […]


  5. Fotos de niños jugando, una radiografía del mundo – Administración y Premios - 11 February 2017

    […] además su mensaje con un libro para el que se alía con el escritor y defensor de la infancia Adrian Voce. A propósito de la falta en el Reino Unido de espacios públicos para el esparcimiento infantil, […]


  6. Fotos de niños jugando, una radiografía del mundo | Reporte 24 España - 11 February 2017

    […] además su mensaje con un libro para el que se alía con el escritor y defensor de la infancia Adrian Voce. A propósito de la falta en el Reino Unido de espacios públicos para el esparcimiento infantil, […]


  7. Fotos de niños jugando, una radiografía del mundo » Pon la oreja - 12 February 2017

    […] además su mensaje con un libro para el que se alía con el escritor y defensor de la infancia Adrian Voce. A propósito de la falta en el Reino Unido de espacios públicos para el esparcimiento infantil, […]


  8. Potential Space? Play, Parents and Streets | researchingrelationships - 8 November 2017

    […] for children, as Adrian Voce made clear in his introduction, building on the work of Stuart Lester and Wendy Russell, play is […]


  9. Putting children at the heart of urban planning: a call for action | Rethinking Childhood - 23 October 2019

    […] Adrian Voce is the director of Playful Planet and current president of the European Network for Child Friendly Cities. He is the author of Policy for Play: responding to children’s forgotten right (2015). […]


  10. Putting children at the heart of urban planning: a call for action | Policy for Play - 24 October 2019

    […] Adrian Voce OBE […]


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