‘Safe Play Lanes’ for Cardiff’s UNICEF child-friendly city goal

Access to natural, green space makes a huge difference to the lives of children living in high-rise apartments. Inna Ska/Shutterstock

Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, is piloting a new initiative to transform lanes and alleyways into child-friendly green spaces that are safe and fun.

The Safe Play Lanes project is looking to increase opportunities for children in the Grangetown district to play safely, whilst also promoting community cohesion and helping to cut anti-social behaviour such as fly-tipping.

A joint partnership between Cardiff Council, Cardiff University and Grange Pavilion, it’s the latest move in Cardiff’s push to be formally recognised as a Child Friendly City by the UK Committee for UNICEF. Its Child Friendly Cities Initiative is now active in more than 3,000 municipalities in 40 countries.

Councillor Sarah Merry, the council’s cabinet member for education, employment and skills, said: “Children have a right to play and by enabling them to play safely near their own homes means that they can enjoy the outdoors, see friends and be near their families. The scheme will help reconnect communities, providing an opportunity for residents to reclaim the space and create welcoming, safe and attractive environments for everyone to enjoy.

“Ensuring children can access safe, fun spaces to play is essential and supports Cardiff’s commitment to becoming globally recognised by the UK Committee for UNICEF, as a Child Friendly City.

‘UNICEF UK has recognised Cardiff’s pioneering role’

Cardiff’s Child Friendly vision places the rights and voices of children and young people at the heart of the city’s policies, strategies and services. It says that UNICEF UK has recognised the pioneering role that Cardiff Council has played in establishing the Child Friendly City Programme in the UK, along with the progress made by the city in embedding children’s rights into its strategies and the way in which it supports and nurture its young people. UNICEF UK has recommended that the council submits for Child Friendly City recognition this autumn.

Councillor Michael Michael, cabinet member for clean streets and environment, said: “This new scheme will give a new purpose to the back lanes in Grangetown, so that children can enjoy outdoor activities on their doorsteps in a COVID safe way. By using these public spaces more regularly, and residents taking ‘ownership’ of these areas, we believe antisocial behaviour will reduce.”

Lynne Thomas is the project manager for Community Gateway, which runs various projects aimed at connecting university staff and students with residents of Grangetown. She said they were looking forward to helping residents fulfil their ambitions of creating ‘bright, welcoming and safe green spaces for play’.

‘The appetite and support here for this project is huge’

“We would love for this project to be a catalyst for wider transformation of disused and underused spaces across Grangetown and are keen to explore additional funding and partnership opportunities,” she said. “Twenty lanes in total were nominated by Grangetown residents as a result of the open call; the appetite and support for this project within the community is huge and we encourage businesses and funders who may be able to help us expand the project to get in touch.”

The scheme is one of several projects to be delivered through the All Wales Play Opportunities Grant which supports and increases play opportunities, in line with the Cardiff Play Sufficiency Assessment. Local consultation is currently underway and local residents and community organisations will help shape the design of the lanes. If successful, the scheme could be expanded across the city.

Join the conversation online using the hashtags #GtownPlayLanes #ChildFriendlyCDF.

Author: Simon Weedy

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