While Islington has a reputation as a fashionable place to live and socialise it is, in fact, the 4th poorest Borough in London. It has less open space and fewer parks for children to play in than any other London Borough and most people’s homes have no garden.
For nearly 50 years, Islington Play Association (IPA) has been working to improve children’s lives and life chances. Along with the Islington Council, the IPA recognises that play is not the same as adult leisure – play is vital for children’s health and well-being.
IPA believes that the ability of children to play is a litmus test for the quality of life for everyone.
Islington has a dozen adventure playgrounds and a strong indigenous voluntary sector working to help children and families. The IPA, for example, supports the work of over 70 voluntary groups and organisations that, in some way or other, help give children the opportunity to play, many of which run imaginative and exciting projects.
So what does IPA do?
- It has a team of workers specialising in supporting and developing adventure playgrounds.
- It has established model children’s centres that provide high quality nursery and out of school care. These services provide a location for training and practice development, benchmarking standards and giving the IPA a direct insight to challenges of service provision.
- It provides business planning and marketing support to help voluntary organisations run efficiently and helps providers improve their services through formal quality assurance measures.
- Every year, it help dozens of voluntary groups raise money and tackle a wide range of challenges around staffing, training, volunteering, child protection, premises, insurance, transport and much more.
- It works both inside and outside of Islington, providing consultancy services, helping in playground design, fundraising, generating publicity, campaigning, service and project planning, research, public consultation and policy development.
- IPA relies heavily on volunteers, both for IPA itself, and for the many projects and services it supports. Volunteers may want to work directly with children or help by using their professional, artistic or sporting skills and interests. Recently, this has included musicians, puppet makers, dancers, lawyers, IT specialist, people who want to share their interest in gardening, chess, photography, writing, environmental campaigning, bike maintenance and so on. Just a few hours a month can make a huge difference.