You may have heard about the battle for Battersea Park Adventure Playground, whose closure was the prompt for an occupation from activists linked to the global Occupy movement. But it is not the only play facility under the cosh.
With councils under huge pressure make cost savings, these are tough times for UK play services – and especially supervised play services like staffed adventure playgrounds, playcentres, play ranger programmes, playbuses and holiday playschemes.
In response, a group of playwork bloggers has set up a listblog called ‘Play in Peril’ to gather information on cuts to play services here in the UK (and especially England). Arthur Battram – a playwork and management consultant, and a frequent, active and lively visitor to these pages – is a member of Play in Peril, and is acting as spokesperson for the group. He is asking people to post on the site as much detail as possible about cuts to local play services – and also to pass on his request for information to others. He explains:
“This is not a blog for writing about stuff, it is a blog for collecting info on endangered stuff. https://playinperil.wordpress.com/
Please be clear: This is ACTION (specifically info gathering) NOT TALK. Please email/phone people and get them involved!
“Please email or phone or tell your colleagues and everybody to visit and SIGN UP, and collect info and spread the word and ACT!
“Please give them this link https://playinperil.wordpress.com/ – it will always take them to the welcome explanation ‘featured’ info, which is updated regularly and ‘datestamped’. Ask them to pass on all of these words in ‘quotes’ to the next person.”
As this message makes clear, the aim of the site is to use online networks and crowdsourced information to build a better picture of what is happening on the ground. Arthur is also inviting people to become editors of the site, in order to help with moderation and managing content. He tells me he is learning fast, and has already changed his mind about the usefulness of Facebook in reaching people.
So if you know of any services under threat – and/or if you want to help with the admin – please head over to the blog, share your information, and build an effective response to cuts to local play services. As Arthur himself might say, information is power.
Note 11 March 2013: this post has been slightly edited for factual accuracy about the creation of Play in Peril.
Update 12 March 2013: the magazine Children and Young People Now covered the launch of the website here.