Sunday, January 04, 2009

Natural Play

an example of a natural playground
Fiona, one of our council’s former Nature Conservation Rangers has been seconded to a new job. She has been asked to lead a new project for Redbridge looking at improving play opportunities in the borough. Significant funding has been secured from the DCSF [Department for Children, Schools and Families] to increase participation in what is termed 'natural play' which broadly means getting children into the natural environment and allowing/teaching them how to play. It is sadly the case that opportunities for this kind of play have significantly decreased over time. Over the next 3 years it is hoped to increase our provision and try to change attitudes towards activities that might be deemed high risk (tree climbing, for example). She has offered to come along and give a talk, and we will book her up for a summer coffee morning.

Here is my mate Philip Booth, over at Ruscombe Green explaining what Natural Play is in more detail with lots of graphics.


  1. May I take this opportunity to wish Fiona every best wish in her new post?
    I am so sorry to see here “being seconded” though. This often happens when someone is near excellent at their chosen appointment.
    Natural Play has been around for many years in many guises – yes, my own involvement in the 70’s (as a journeyman) was at the beginning of the Play-Leadership schemes when we gathered timbers from demolished houses in Leytonstone and later when we were among the first to secure ex-rail-stock carriages as site offices, and of course grabbing the old telegraph poles (tar and all) when BT went underground etc.
    The kids of that time used 6inch nails to ‘fix’ just about anything which ended up as aerial cat-walks, and many an assault-course structure.
    These play areas changed drastically when H&S came into force like a Dickensian granny. It is so good to see that people such as Philip and now Fiona are re-introducing these skills to children in this way.
    Mind you Hainault Peace Farm also uses these skills and has many original land-skill events throughout the year.
    If the kids don’t experience these skills in competent hands and under competent supervision how can this society survive in manufacture?
    A number of this earlier generation went into furniture making and later when furniture became flat-pack went into machinist trades.
    Mind you, could this be the return of similarly sensible names for Council Departments such as Parks and Recreation and be a department in its own right instead of being lumped together with street cleaning and garbage collecting?
    I think this dream of a return to work-related named departments is far away when I see the construction of a new sign for Housing in Redbridge (come on this is tongue in cheek but that’s how it reads) the sign is on Wanstead High Street and reads: “GREEN PLACE TO LIVE – Wanstead Recycling Site”.
    Fiona – all power to your elbow – don’t become a stranger to the Conservation Scene OK! Big Hug
    Richard Cooper
    (Note: Journeyman is the traditional career to accomplish skills in all spheres of a discipline. Only The Princes Trust provide this career opportunity today.)

  2. Good luck to all in this venture and I hope it doesn't get closed down prematurely.

    Ironic though that this scheme is being introduced when the Borough is considering selling off sport & recreation facilities used by children so that we can have "much needed" housing.