Fighting cuts to play services: information is power

Play in Peril website screengrabYou 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.
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 – 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.

9 responses to “Fighting cuts to play services: information is power

  1. Hi Tim, He will surely be inundated!


  2. Too late for Cornwall, we lost our last full time playworker over a year ago now. Its time community groups across the land occupied their playgrounds but also any land they can for play. How about the usually coiffured land in front of council offices? Ideal play grounds. It is easy for councils to marginalize powerless, vote-less, apparently invisible citizens but as voting adults we have a duty to defend our childrens rights to play under international law (Article 31 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). We need badges, posters, media.
    I’m up for reclaiming ALL bits of disused land for just this purpose and will also blogging on this next week.
    Don’t get angry, don’t get event just get active!

  3. Hello Jane,

    sorry to hear that.

    A lot of us are wondering why we didn’t setup this PlayinPeril thing 2 years ago. Ah, well.

    We want to, and need to, document ALL the losses as well as the pending cuts; it may be too late for Cornwall’s last worker, but we may be able to build a solid campaign if we have good data.

    At the moment it is a very scruffy and amateurish site, as it was put up in a rush to be ready before the National Playwork conference 4-5th March.

    And, just to further add to my travails, both of my computers are misbehaving, so I have to give that priority. Woe is me.

    If you have a few minutes spare next week, please visit the site and update us on Cornwall with a bit more detail. You might also know some other Cornwall folk who can add more information. Thank you.

  4. It has been alarming to hear of so many closures to adventure playgrounds and cuts in play services happening all over England. The temptation is to go into a tail spin of panic and confrontation. Play in Peril allows us to
    gather information to map these cuts which have such a profound effect on children and communities. This mapping will allow us to see the bigger picture, to enable a free flow of information and possibly form the basis of impact assessments over the coming years. It is not a campaigning site. It is an invaluable resource for those of us who care about the rights of the child to play.

  5. Thanks for the comments so far. The magazine Children and Young People Now reported on the launch of the website here – I’ve also added an update to this effect above the line.

  6. Thanks Tim.
    Well said Penny.
    Sir Bernard of Playlink is also emailing his list with details. Apart from the obvious bodies (Play England, Fair Play), is there any other outlet we should be asking to get the message out, do you think?

  7. Update: the Play in Peril ‘listblog’ has been much improved, mainly due to the efforts of Joel Seath. We have a few more ‘named’ supporters, a lot more interest and even some volunteers actually working on it (myself and Joel on the site, and Penny Wilson on proselytising).

    Remember this is purely information-gathering by a non-affiliated group of volunteers, not a national body or charitable campaign.

    We now have a big red button which takes you directly to our FILE A REPORT page. It looks a bit like a red nose, which is chronologically coincidental.

    Please spread the word, and don’t forget to file a report on any cuts, cutbacks or losses that you are aware of – don’t assume someone else will do it,


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