Each month we highlight a London charity that is helping to make our neighbourhoods better. This time we talked to Islington Play Association, who support the social and personal development of the children of Islington by giving them the space and freedom to play. IPA told us about their work, and why play matters.
Tell us about Islington Play Association.
Islington Play Association is a local charity that believes that every child should be able to play outside. Our ethos is that play is fundamentally what children do when they can do what they want. Our charity works hard to imagine, create, deliver and run excellent play opportunities for the children of Islington.
Our approach is to empower and support young people to develop resilience and independence through assessing risks, being adventurous and trying things out, which encourages them to aspire to fulfil their potential, now and in the future. By adapting our services to the individual needs of the people we work with, IPA supports the social and personal development of young people through informal education.
We run six adventure playgrounds that are free for local children and Paradise Park Children’s Centre, which houses our community café and our nursery. We ensure that even the youngest children benefit from outdoor play. We are officially a Good nursery with Ofsted highlighting that our “children’s physical health and development benefit greatly from the vast range of opportunities to learn in the open air with natural materials”.
Why is the work of your organisation necessary?
In this busy, tech-filled, modern world it is important for children to get in touch with nature, meet their friends, neighbours and peers and get physically active through play.
We know that children in Islington face many different challenges, including living in the borough with the second-least greenspace in the UK and with the third-highest rate of child poverty. Living in an urban environment can be difficult, especially when it comes to freedom to play. Children are no longer allowed to ‘play out’; they are ferried from place to place and don’t get to just hang out with their friends in child-friendly places—that is what we want to change. That is why we are committed to changing lives here in Islington.
What are any obstacles you face?
The main obstacle to excellent play for all children is the funding issue that many charities are facing. Austerity has made life harder for children and families, and services are reducing. It gets harder and harder to keep things free and low cost.
The other big issue is parental attitude. We are all very busy, rushing around trying to do what’s best for our families, and it’s difficult to remember that children just want some space and time to explore their world and to have the freedom to play.
What are your funding sources?
We are funded by the local authority, by grants and trusts and through donations.
Do you hold fundraising events throughout the year?
We run some great fundraising events throughout the year where grown-ups get to explore and play on our unique adventure playgrounds whilst raising money to keep services free for local children. We also rent out our spaces for children’s parties and private events.
How can people get involved?
For more information, check out Islington Play Association’s website.