2013 media release

Intolerant attitudes and a lack of dedicated community spaces are preventing children from playing out where they live, survey results released today for Playday 2013 have revealed.

The survey, commissioned by Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland, found that over 50% of adults reported playing out at least seven times a week when they were growing up, compared to less than a quarter of children (23%) today, with 40% of children saying they want to play out more.

Alongside concerns about traffic (53%) and stranger danger (40%), which both consistently appear high on the list of factors stopping outdoor play; over 1 in 4 (28%) adults cited intolerant neighbours as a major barrier stopping children playing out where they live. Over a quarter (28%) of parents fear being judged by neighbours if they let their children play unsupervised outdoors, while almost a third (32%) believe allowing their children to play ball games or make noise outdoors would cause problems with other residents. It is hardly surprising that a quarter of adults (25%) felt that a more friendly community and better relationships with neighbours would encourage young people to play outside more often.

In addition, a lack of dedicated community space was also cited as hampering children’s opportunities to play, with almost a third of adults (32%) and a fifth of children (20%) saying that more spaces to play within their local community would get more children playing out.

However, the research shows that play has the power to bring communities together; with 40% of adults saying that children playing out where they live improves community spirit, and almost half (45%) saying it helps families to get to know each other. All it takes is one or two families to take the first step; with 60% of parents saying they would feel confident to let their kids play out if others were playing too.

Results from the survey of 3,000 children, adults and parents have been released today as an estimated 852,000 children and families nationwide celebrate Playday – the national day for play in the UK, held this year on Wednesday 7th August.  Hundreds of individuals, families and whole communities will hold celebration events across the UK as part of this year’s Playful places campaign, which calls on everyone to help make sure that the places where children live and hang out are great places to play.

Cath Prisk, Director of Play England said: “It’s up to all of us to turn around the creeping disappearance of children from our streets, parks and communities. We all have role – as families, neighbours, and friends. We can all do something to say we love kids playing outdoors, that we want to live in communities that actively welcome kids playing out. There always was and always will be some people who want to squash kid’s fun – but there are far more that really want kids back outside playing, not stuck indoors, especially over the summer holidays!

If every councillor and MP committed to ensuring every child in their communities could play outside in their street, in playgrounds or local parks for at least an hour just five days a week, think of the difference that would make to every child’s health, to the number of friends they can make and most of all to the fun they can have!”

Mike Greenaway, Director of Play Wales said: ‘We need to recognise the importance of providing children with time, space and freedom to play in their own way. We need to support them and recognise that for their health, wellbeing and long-term development children need playful places and opportunities to play outside. Whilst every day of the year should be a play day, national Playday is our annual opportunity to celebrate and campaign for children’s right to play.’

Marguerite Hunter Blair, CEO of Play Scotland said: ‘As well as a celebration of children’s right to play, Playday is a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives. We know that children across the UK would like to play outdoors more than they already do, with more opportunities for a wide range of play opportunities wanted. Playday is a great opportunity for children to have these experiences and get out to play more in their communities and for there to be a celebration of play. Children and adults can enter into the true spirit of play which is child focused, spontaneous and fun – it is not a weather dependent event, and you can be sure that everyone will get a bit damp and dirty before the end of the day!’

Jacqueline O’Loughlin Chief Executive of PlayBoard Northern Ireland said: ‘Consensus is spreading; play, especially playing outdoors, makes sense. It makes sense for families, society and the economy.  Play is fundamental to our children’s enjoyment of their childhood; it can’t be taken for granted.  All of us, from parents to planners, from neighbours to policy makers have our part to play in allowing and supporting children’s play as it is vital for our children’s health, learning, development and happiness.’

Events will be taking place across the UK today Wednesday 7th August and throughout the summer. To find your local event simply visit www.playday.org.uk/events .

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For more information please contact the National Children’s Bureau’s media office on 0207 843 6045 / 47 /6044 or email media@ncb.org.uk or playenglandmedia@ncb.org.uk. For urgent enquiries out of office hours call 07721 097 033.

Notes to editors

Research was carried out by One Poll in July 2013 and consisted of three polls: 1000 adults, 1000 parents and 1000 children aged 5-16.

About Playday

Playday is the national day for play, traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August. As well as an annual celebration of children’s right to play, Playday is a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives. Playday is coordinated by Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland. On Playday thousands of children and young people get out to play at hundreds of locally organised celebrations – from small-scale neighbourhood get-togethers to large-scale public events. For more information see www.playday.org.uk.

About Play England

Play England is part of the leading national children’s charity NCB, and campaigns for all children to have the freedom and space to play throughout childhood. As the national organisation for children’s play, Play England works with all those who have an impact on children’s lives to support and champion play as an essential part of childhood. For further information or to talk to a spokesperson, call 020 7843 6300 or visit www.playengland.org.uk.

About Play Wales

Play Wales is the national charity for children’s play in Wales. We provide advice, support and guidance for all those in Wales who have a concern or responsibility for any environment where children and young people might play. Play Wales upholds children’s right to play. All children are entitled to quality play provision within their communities and we work strategically to achieve this goal on their behalf. For further information visit www.playwales.org.uk.

About Play Scotland

Play Scotland was formed in 1998 to make the child’s right to play a reality in Scotland. The work of Play Scotland is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in particular Article 31: “States Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” Play Scotland’s mission is:To increase awareness of the importance of play to the development of children and young people in Scotland; To ensure that all children and young people in Scotland have equal access to diverse and quality play opportunities that meet their individual need.  For further information on Play Scotland visit www.playscotland.org or Email: info@playscotland.org

About PlayBoard Northern Ireland

PlayBoard is the leading agency for the development and promotion of children and young people’s play in Northern Ireland. To this end, the organisation provides a range of innovative services designed to strengthen service delivery through advice, support, training and tailored provision

PlayBoard’s work is concentrated and prioritised within a framework of ‘equity, diversity and interdependence’ (EDI), and is consistent with the ethos of human rights, social justice and social inclusion. For further information on PlayBoard visit www.playboard.org or Email: lisa.oconnor@playboard.co.uk

About the National Children’s Bureau

The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) is a leading charity that for 50 years has been improving the lives of children and young people, especially the most vulnerable. We work with children and for children, to influence government policy, be a strong voice for young people and practitioners, and provide creative solutions on a range of social issues. For more information visit www.ncb.org.uk