Play for Children
Child's Right to Play
Fair Play for Children News
years ago on 3st July 1972, a letter
appeared in 'The Times' in
the wake of a tragedy - two
boys aged nine drowned playing in a
tin bath in an East End Canal in
London .... for want of somewhere safe
That event led Bishop
Trevor Huddleston CR, then
Bishop of Stepney, to pen an angry
reproach in the press, he had known
both boys and their families.
It was not right, he insisted,
that such a deficit should have led to
With the same zeal that marked his
defiance of apartheid in his native
South Africa (from
which he had been exiled for his
views). Father Trevor launched this
campaign, soon supported by The Duke
of Edinburgh, it was, and is, known
as Fair Play for
Its mission is to achieve that safe,
but challenging, play space for every
child, as now stated in Article
31 of the United
Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child.
Play 50, how do we measure progress
towards that aim?
Though much has been achieved,
overall can we say that there has been
much movement? Yes, the
community and voluntary sector in the
UK has led the way, against huge odds
mainly thrown in their way by the
statutory sector. Oh,
plenty of platitudes, 'nice thoughts',
but when we examine the record of
government at all levels, it has been
a sad tale of non-achievement, even of
To be blunt, always the first target
for cuts especially by councils, often
running counter to their statutory
obligations, which goes mainly
unchallenged from society.
Play has been and is running a
campaign on this aspect, to get the
law updated so that councils are
held to account by the Government.
Frankly, one feels that, too
often, the national voluntary sector
has been more intent to navel-gaze,
talking up convincing the
powers-that-be that Play is special,
and also that it's all about improving
the status of playworkers.
MPs and Ministers, local government
chiefs, councillors etc all KNOW the
importance of Play, or they pay it enough
lip service that, were that translated
into action and resource, we'd by now have
a Play-scape for Heaven on earth.
At this time, so much has been
lost, trashed by cuts, our children
and young people have been betrayed.
Not very celebratory?
Well, what is stated does not diminish
one jot the years of hard work and
dedication people and organisations
have contributed and continue to do
Play 50 is
dedicated to making sure they have
first call - just consider how much
money would be saved, for example, if
Councillors across the country gave up
.... At a very rough
guess, that would free up over £80
million a year. After
all, they stand voluntarily for
office, they can receive out-of-pocket
expenses, but why should they also
have an allowance on top of that just
for being a councillor?
One challenge if you are such
a councillor -
relinquish your annual allowance and
ask your council that it be diverted
to children's play and youth work in
your area! I did it when I
was a councillor, you can too!
the year ahead, FP50 will be aiming
to secure legislative changes
through dialogue with the Government.
You can help by aiming letters
at the your MPs to get their
support. Keep in touch via
our website www.fairplay31.online/index.html
This is my thirty-first year as
National Secretary of Fair Play for
Children. I urge you to
redouble the fight for a Fair
Deal for Children's Play.
Fair Play, DONATE, campaign with us!
Secretary (Proud to be)
Children - their lives, their futures, the
World at Play.
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