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Children 'Go Play'
Funding totalling £4 million is to be provided by the Scottish Government to improve play opportunities among five to 13 year-olds.
'Go Play', which will run over two years, will help improve facilities and services in areas where children have the least opportunities to develop through play. For example, through creative approaches to play using Scotland's natural environment and play workers working within the community.
Voluntary groups will be able to submit funding bids from mid-September, with support available for regional bodies, small grassroots community organisations and medium and large scale charities. Inspiring Scotland - the national charity which uses skills and money to improve the lives of Scotland's most vulnerable people - will manage the fund and work with these groups to increase their capacity for providing play opportunities.
The Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram, who announced details of Go Play during a visit to Glasgow's Jeely Piece Club, said:
"Over the years many of us have lost sight of the importance of play yet evidence shows that it contributes significantly to how children learn and develop, as well as their overall health and wellbeing.
"That's why our Early Years Framework and Equally Well - the Health Inequalities Framework, included a commitment to work with Inspiring Scotland to support the third sector to increase opportunities for play and why we commissioned research earlier this year to identify the support required to make the sector more sustainable.
"I'm therefore delighted to be able to announce this new £4 million programme. It will make a real difference towards improving many children's play experience and also ensure there is a lasting legacy in place for our younger children so that they too have better opportunities to develop through play in the future."
Andrew Muirhead, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland, said:
"Childhood should be a time of joy, exploration and learning. For too many children in Scotland this isn't the case. We hope that through Go Play we can bring a sense of fun and happiness to more children, which will also help them grow up into happy and healthy adults who can make the most of their lives. There is great scope to widen the impact of the innovative work already being delivered to improve the futures of Scotland's youngsters. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Scottish Government to strengthen the voluntary sector's response to pressing social issues."
Marguerite Hunter-Blair, Chief Executive of Play Scotland said:
"Play Scotland is delighted to welcome the first ever Play Fund in Scotland, aimed at improving children and young people`s quality of life through play. Making time to play must become a modern day priority alongside developing community-friendly play spaces. A good play experience is every child`s right and benefits the whole community.
"Play Scotland is looking forward to working with Inspiring Scotland to ensure that parents, communities and professionals recognise the value and long term benefits of play for children's development."
The Jeely Piece Club was started in 1975 by parents in Castlemilk who began by running play schemes to offer better opportunities for children during the school holidays. It is now recognised as one of the most successful community play organisations in Scotland and recently received help from Pilotlight Scotland to produce business and marking plans to improve its long-term sustainability.
Chris Horne, Director of Pilotlight Scotland, said:
"We have been delighted that through our highly project managed strategic planning process the Pilotlight team of business volunteers, representing a broad cross-section of the Scottish business community, have helped to ensure that the essential services of the Jeely Piece be sustained and developed to meet the needs of the local community."
Go Play is designed to support 'free play' in the voluntary sector involving five to 13 year-olds - behaviour which is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. This funding is aimed at improving the play infrastructure in Scotland as well as the development of creative approaches that encourage free play.
In addition to managing the fund, Inspiring Scotland will also work with play organisations to bring in additional resources through pro bono support from the private sector, so that they can build their funding for the longer term from a variety of sources including local authorities, trusts and foundations and philanthropic sources.