Archive | January, 2014

Evidence for play

25 Jan

I am writing this in support of Tim Gill’s blog

http://rethinkingchildhood.com/2014/01/20/help-build-policy-case-play/

asking for help to enable him to respond to the request from Nick Hurd for evidence in support of play.

I believe this is the first time that this Government has directly asked for engagement with the play sector at this level, which must make it one of the most important opportunities we have had to promote the interests of children in play. Consequently I am simply asking all the people who have an interest in this field to support Tim with time and thought. It may be a long time before we have another opportunity like this, so please help!

Robin Sutcliffe, Chair, Children’s Play Policy Forum

the rationale for regional play associations

3 Jan

There must be many small organisations in the voluntary sector that are facing issues of continuity and rationale for existence in this harsh economic climate. At the last meeting of Yorkshire Play (YP) I offered to remind my colleagues about the reasons why it was formed and subsequently it has occurred to me that this might have relevance to others who are in a similar position.

Yorkshire Play was actually made up from three separate strands. The Yorkshire Play Policy Forum, the Yorkshire Officers Group and the Regional office of SkillsActive. Clearly the Regional function of SkillsActive has been wound up and the Yorkshire Play Officers Group continues to meet separately as well as being represented in YP.

It is in this situation that YP, with no external funding, is looking at the rationale for continuation and I thought that the way in which the original forum came together might be of some relevance.

Back in the heady days of the early naughties, when Chris Smith had made his commitment of £200,000,000 for play, Tim Gill and Frank Dobson were asked , by the then Government to put together a funding strategy for NOF (now BLF of course). As part of that process he initiated a number of Regional consultations, excellently facilitated by Issy Cole-Hamilton, to obtain the views of the sector at a regional level.

One such consultation took place at Eureka, the National Children’s Museum in Halifax. At that time the zeitgeist of play policies was spreading across the land and a number of Play Officers in Local Authorities across Yorkshire were trying to embed policies within their own Authority.

It was a lonely endeavour in what felt like uncharted waters, so, not surprisingly, a number of officers came together at Eureka and identified a need to consult and support each other. They agreed to meet again and discuss their own particular progress, successes and problems, to share experience in order to help each other. This lead to the growth and expansion to include SkillsActive and the Yorkshire Play Officers Group, who continue to form an important part of the conversation along with the Commercial Sector.

I believe that the creation of the YPPF and the support and sharing of information did more to help develop policy in a non-coercive and sustainable way in Yorkshire than any other and that this need remains today. I agree that the situation is completely different;  I feel that today, play is polarised and isolated, even almost under siege. I do not believe that play policy, although important, should any more be the central plank of our campaign. I think that we could lower the bar and simply try to engage with Government and the Officers who work for Government. In doing this the role of Regional Associations and Play England should remain pivotal.