2010 media release


2 August 2010

New figures released today for Playday 2010 reveal that the loss of community spirit in Britain is leading to children not being allowed to play outside where they live.

The ICM survey commissioned by children’s charity Play England, questioned more than 1,000 adults and children about their attitudes to play and children’s place in the community. The research found that 79% of adults believe community spirit has weakened since they were a child. This is compounded by the fact that 1 in 3 adults (30%) would be hesitant to help a child in need of assistance in their neighbourhood, because they would be worried that the child might be abusive to them. In addition, nearly half of men (44%) and 28% of women would be wary to help, in case they were suspected of attempting to abduct the child.

The research also found that 47% of adults think it is unsafe for children to play out without supervision, and that 1 in 3 (37%) parents are concerned they will be judged by their neighbours if they let their children play out unsupervised. Over a quarter of children (28%) say that, when they are playing, adults tend to think they’re up to no good and more than half (55%) of parents worry that the noise of their children playing outside will upset their neighbours. In reality 81% of adults believe children playing outside helps to improve community spirit. 70% think that it makes an area more desirable to live in.

The survey suggests that children are also picking up on adult fears and anxieties. 71% of children worry about being followed or taken by strangers. They are also concerned about traffic (64%), bullying (60%) and knife crime (49%).

The research also shows an inclination for adults to judge children in negative terms. Whilst 70% of adults would describe them as friendly, a large proportion also described children as ‘disrespectful’ (54%), ‘intimidating’ (40%) and ‘out of control’ (38%). 48% of adults also believe that children today do not have respect for their community.

Despite the lack of trust and the evident fears within the older and younger generations, nearly three quarters of children (73%) say they would like more time to play or hanging out where they live. Most parents, too, believe that improving opportunities for children to play outside would improve their neighbourhoods and they want communities to pull together to create better places for children to grow up.

Adrian Voce, Director of Play England, said

“This survey highlights that children are increasingly isolated and unable to play outside with friends. More than half the parents we spoke to (54%) told us they only feel confident for their children to play outside if other children are playing out too. They want to give children that freedom but are worried about the dangers and about what people will think. The danger is that these anxieties are perpetuating a cycle of children being denied important opportunities to enjoy their childhood and develop healthy, active lifestyles. This is storing up huge problems for the future.

“Children with regular access to playable spaces are much more likely to enjoy childhood and grow up healthier and happier. We need to build parents’ confidence to let their children play out, by tackling the real barriers such as traffic and the lack of good places to play. But we also need to communicate more positive messages about children in public space.

“The government should ensure that its Big Society programme builds up community spirit and harnesses the desire that most people have for more playable, child-friendly neighbourhoods by providing the planning framework and the support for local people to make the changes they so clearly want.”

Play England is inviting all parents and children to come out and enjoy one of the hundreds of free community events taking place across the country, on Wednesday 4 August 2010 to celebrate this year’s Playday. This year’s theme, Our place! aims to tackle some of the restrictions faced by children wanting to play where they live and promotes that play is essential for children and the wider community. Playday is asking everyone – young and old – to help create better places for all of us to live and play.


Notes to editors:

1. For more information about Playday and the Our Place! campaign, visit http://www.playday.org.uk/

2. Playday is coordinated by Play England, part of NCB, working in partnership with PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play Scotland and Play Wales. The national campaign involves thousands of children and young people getting out to play at locally organised events. Playday events range from small-scale neighbourhood get-togethers to large-scale public events organised by local authorities and national organisations.

3. Play England is a charity that promotes excellent free play opportunities for all children and young people. Play England provides advice and support to promote good practice, and works to ensure that the importance of play is recognised by policy makers, planners and the public. Play England is part of NCB and is supported by the Big Lottery Fund. For further information call 020 7843 6300 or visit www.playengland.org.uk.

4. NCB’s mission is to advance the well-being of all children and young people across every aspect of their lives. As a membership, development and support charity for the children’s sector in England and Northern Ireland, NCB provides essential information on policy, research and best practice for our members and the members of our wide range of partnership bodies which operate under our charitable status and are based in our London headquarters. For further information visit http://www.ncb.org.uk/

5. Findings are from the Playday 2009 drawing consultation. Pictures were submitted June-September 2009, with findings being released for the first time now. The Playday 2010 drawing consultation is now open, with children being encouraged to draw pictures of ‘What’s it like to play where you live’. Findings of the Playday 2010 drawing consultation will be used to map a picture of children’s play in their communities across the UK.

For further information, please contact the NCB Media Office:
Clare Quarrell/Anna Tombs on 0207 843 6044/6045
Media Office Mobile – 07721 097033 or e-mail: media@ncb.org.uk