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UK Play Commission formed to help improve youngsters’ access to play

Image courtesy of Play England

A new ‘play’ commission will investigate the state of children’s play in the UK and give the new incoming government ideas for improving access and facilities.

The Raising the Nation Play Commission has been created by entrepreneur Paul Lindley, founder of baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen, with the support of the Centre for Young Lives (CfYL).

Throughout its 12-month programme, the commission will seek testimony from experts in children’s play and wellbeing, as well as from parents, children and young people. It has issued an online call for evidence including for parents and young people to come forward with their own experiences of restricted access to play in their communities.

The commission is being advised by law firm Hogan Lovells, which has agreed to help it identify whether an effective and enforceable right to play exists in law in England and Wales and help identify opportunities to provide protections for play.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was ratified by the UK in 1991 but has never been directly incorporated into domestic law. Working with Hogan Lovells, the commission will seek to establish the extent to which current law across the UK upholds the UNCRC, and where it fails to do so.

The commission will investigate barriers to play including cuts to local authority funding, which has seen more than 800 playgrounds close since 2010, restricted access to green spaces in housing developments, changes to school break times, and the role of social media and online gaming.

It will be chaired by Lindley and Anne Longfield, CfYL founder and former children’s commissioner for England. It will be made up of 15 experts drawn from the fields of play, public health and child development including Eugene Minogue, chief executive of Play England, Sue Macmillan, chief executive of Mumsnet and Tim Gill, independent play consultant.

Longfield said: “Paul is an established expert on children’s wellbeing and we are delighted that the Play Commission will be one of the first major projects of the Centre for Young Lives. We look forward to working with Paul, experts, parents, and children on developing an ambitious and creative play strategy for the next Government to implement.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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