‘I don’t know what I would have done without this, the boys are full of stories everyday’
“At Islington Play Association (IPA) we believe play is essential for children’s happiness and wellbeing in the present, and for their development for the future. We run open access play services on our adventure playgrounds which are free for all children to attend. There is no booking system; registered children can turn up and play.
Whilst responding to the pandemic, IPA have been bound by government guidelines and public health systems to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 infection, to keep our whole community safe. To do this we had to quickly make major adjustments to our services. Our capacity for this work was greatly enhanced by a grant from Islington Giving as part of the London Community Response Fund.
In order open the playgrounds for the summer holidays, we set up a raft of new systems, creating bubbles of 15 children who would play together on each adventure playground for two-week slots. We tried our best to prioritise those most in need. This was not easy: nearly half of Islington children live in poverty, and there is so much need. From the 20th of July to the 28th of August hundreds of children were able to play freely on adventure playgrounds in Islington. Analysis of our holiday bubbles has shown that a high percentage were from Islington’s most disadvantaged families.
Girl playing in playground by Islington Play Association
The children who were able to use the sites in summer had wonderful quality play experiences. One mother of three children told us ‘I don’t know what I would have done without this, the boys are full of stories everyday’.
One ten-year-old came to the playground terribly frightened that she would catch the virus. She didn’t want to go near anyone, she stood on her own and cried, and eventually had to be taken home. She retuned he next day though, and was able to stay a bit longer. She made her own mask and made pictures for a public artwork. By the end of the first week she was able to mix happily with the other children, she built a den and created a dance with a group of children and got involved in every aspect of the play.
We have plans for opening in the autumn term for after-school sessions.”