An organisation which offers disadvantaged children and communities across London the best free play opportunities and the chance to come together, has just been awarded over £380,000 of National Lottery funding to transform more streets into temporary play zones.
The funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity across the UK, will enable London Play to develop sustainable play opportunities across the capital. This will be delivered through the simple act of temporarily – but regularly – closing London’s streets off to traffic. London Play is just one of the 329 community projects which has received National Lottery funding this quarter.
With the aim of getting children back outside and avoiding any screen-based play, 80 new play streets will be implemented across 16 London boroughs. London Play will continue to target boroughs that are part of their existing programme: Camden, Croydon, Islington, Greenwich, Newham and Southwark. However, they will be expanding this service into Westminster, Lewisham, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton, Barnet, Richmond, Hounslow, Harrow, Ealing and Hillingdon as they plan to establish strong links in these areas.
Training opportunities to become play co-ordinators will also be offered to residents and volunteers so they can become fully involved in the project. This will enable them to build positive relationships with young people, improving mental and physical health across all ages.
The project is central to communities as play streets are unique to each area and dependent on local communities. Residents can decide on how frequently play streets happen and what they consist of – these generally range from playgrounds to adventure parks, Play sessions are free of charge and have a significant impact on the community as a whole.
London Play aims to encourage children and young people to be more independent and form a better connection with their community. Young people who are no longer in education or working are also given the chance to apply for jobs and other voluntary opportunities within the organisation. This will not only enhance their life and employability skills but ensure they have a say in how their community is shaped – all of which contributes to a safer and stronger neighbourhood.
Paul Hocker, London Play Director, said: “This initiative has grown year on year since London Play first began in 2009. We have since worked with Londoners to put outdoor play back on our doorstep. Thanks to National Lottery funding, London Play will be able to continue to dedicate a space for children to play.
“Children haven’t changed and want to exercise their imaginations as well as their curiosity – this is the perfect place to do that. Families have realised that childhood is best lived outdoors and with Play Streets, communities have stepped up to create traffic-free sessions for children to enjoy and to bring neighbours together.”