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We want to play too 2012

Executive Summary

Background

Parentsactive carried out a survey in April 2011 to gather information on which services people used in terms of play provision and their thoughts on the parks in the Borough.

Approach/Methodology.

Parentsactive designed the survey which was carried out using www.surveymonkey.com and received 62 responses.

Key Points arising from the survey

The parks service has let disabled children down by not including them or their families in consultations and by not assessing their needs to make parks fully inclusive.

Play opportunities for disabled children in the borough are very limited and those opportunities that do exist have limited numbers, and/or are aimed specifically at one type of disability with strict access criteria, mainstream provision is considered to be very expensive and is often difficult to access without support.

Actions

We are looking for responses to this report from

For any further information or queries please contact:

Greg Ivison: Play Inclusion Coordinator
Greg.Ivison@Mencaphf.org.uk
0208 748 5168
Nandini Ganesh: Parentsactive Coordinator
Nandini.Ganesh@Mencaphf.org.uk
0208 748 5168

Introduction

In April 2011, Parentsactive asked the families of disabled children living in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham if they use their local play facilities and if they found play a positive experience. 62 families of disabled children in Hammersmith & Fulham completed the survey with over 70% having children aged 5–16.

The survey was carried out as Parentsactive felt that play provision for disabled children was inadequate and they wanted to quantify this dissatisfaction to present to service providers.

The following report is a summary of the responses to the survey and findings from research carried out by Parentsactive.

Parks

“Public open spaces are central features of local community life across the UK, making a significant contribution to people’s well being and quality of life...Many people, including disabled people, are often excluded from enjoying the use and benefits of such spaces because of a lack of planning or awareness of their needs.” (Sensory Trust)

90% of parents with disabled children in Hammersmith and Fulham surveyed, used their local parks despite the lack of suitable equipment, of these users 96% felt that the park facilities were unsatisfactory.

Reasons included:

Parents described their disabled children as not coping well when in an unstructured environment, either due to a sensory processing disorder, through not understanding the rules of turn-taking, needing constant close supervision, or getting upset by the attitudes of others. Parent’s also spoke of negatives such as being stared at, hearing people say things about their child’s appearance, or being told to leave for being a risk or danger to others.

Parents are aggrieved that £50,000 of Aiming High money intended for disabled children was spent on Ravenscourt Park and that none of this money was used to make more inclusive play spaces or build disabled toilet facilities with hoists and changing beds. It is unlawful when a service provider fails to comply with a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people and cannot justify the failure.

Parks Strategy

The Parks Strategy for Hammersmith and Fulham states that they will:

None of these actions have been undertaken by the council.

Current facilities

Within the borough there are 48 parks and open spaces, 21 of which have equipment, but only one has a specific piece of equipment for inclusive play, other parks have some equipment that can be used by less physically disabled children. When asked by Parentsactive to carry out an audit of the parks to highlight the equipment suitable for use by disabled children the parks management sent through a list of all the equipment in all the parks, this was not useful for parents to be able to see which parks would be best to take their child to.

The graph below shows that only 3 parks within Hammersmith and Fulham were used by the majority of those surveyed.

graph

Barriers to access

Parents spoke of the many physical barriers that had to be overcome before considering a visit to any playground

These barriers mean that often parents are unable to use local parks for leisure and simply have to walk around the park with their child, unable to use the equipment, purely to get out of the house.

Examples of good practice

Families that are able, travel considerable distances with their disabled child and siblings, to find appropriate play at specialised or accessible playgrounds and centres outside of the borough.

Some of the favoured destinations are:

The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens (Secure, good sensory area.)

Thames Valley Adventure Playground (TVAP) in Taplow, Berkshire (Specific Disability Playground)

Holland Park (inclusive equipment, diverse range of facilities)

Kensington Memorial Park (good water play feature which was manned)

Wimbledon Park (Diverse range of facilities)

Reasons why these parks were favoured were due to, interesting and inclusive play equipment, sensory features such as water fountains, manned facilities and secure fenced spaces. None of the parks are local to any parents who answered our survey.

Conclusions

Actions

New Park Development/Refurbishment

Improvements to existing parks.

Play

“Play is critically important to children’s development and learning. Through play children learn that which cannot be taught - that which can only be learnt through experience, such as self-confidence and resilience. A child’s development, and their future capacity as an adult, will be affected by their access to a range of play opportunities.” (The Play Principles, signed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council)

Of the 62 families who completed the survey, 70% said they do not access local play facilities or groups. When asked why, families cited the strict eligibility criteria in place and the unsuitability of what is on offer. Only 11 used school holiday provision with the majority using HAFAD. During term time 16 were able to access after school provision again the majority used HAFAD.

Families of children with more severe complex health, learning or physical needs felt that play services in Hammersmith & Fulham were completely non-existent.

Some of the existing services such as HAFAD have developed a more inclusive atmosphere with pan-disability groups however; the capacity and age range (11-25) does not meet the needs of all disabled young people in Hammersmith and Fulham. The Play Association organise a Saturday and holiday club at Queensmill 2 School, with a capacity of 12 children aged 8 and over, with one to one support, this club is run jointly with K&C. The Play Association has also been awarded funding to start a playscheme for disabled children under 8 which will run at Queensmill Primary School

Special Schools

“A change of scenery is nice, but she needs to experience inclusive, interactive and accessible play, not just a change of scenery”

Cambridge School run some after school clubs (which are not sports based) and a Saturday club which is also open to siblings. They have a 1 week playscheme at Easter and run for another two weeks in the summer (this is only for Cambridge children and not open to others). There is also a Boccia Club run by Mencap at Jack Tizard School and a Table Tennis club also run by Mencap at Wood Lane School, these clubs are open to those aged 11 and up.

Play Strategy

Hammersmith and Fulham’s play strategy states that it will:

These promises are not being met by the council for disabled children as our survey of parent’s shows.

The main group of children who lack provision are those between the ages of 5 -11 and those with complex health needs of all ages. This is due to the fact that Children’s Centres only offer activities to children up to age 5 and HAFAD run a youth programme for ages 11 and up. Children with complex health needs often need specialist equipment to access services and this is rarely provided.

Parentsactive through their survey found that there were very few choices for their children in Hammersmith & Fulham for play provision and that this lack of choice needs to be addressed by the council. If there was a lack of play provision for mainstream young people it would be addressed very rapidly, this has not been the case for disabled children

Existing Services

Some parents use the HAFAD Youth service who deliver free holiday programs, a term time youth club and an after school club for 11-25 year olds and others do have respite at the Haven however the Haven can only cater for 5 overnight and up to 9 children during the day at any one time aged 9 — 18.

Parents on low incomes have, on some occasions been unable to pay the fees of playschemes they have been offered and there is no set format for how discounts are calculated.

Sessional carers and direct payments

Direct payments and sessional carers also allow parents to have a break and for their children to be taken to activities however, direct payments are not used as widely as they could be. Sessional carers are offered free tickets to events at a number of locations however this offer is not extended to direct payment or agency workers.

Direct payment and sessional workers are constantly looking for new and different activities to attend with the child they look after; knowledge of activities that are supportive and welcoming is not shared in an open forum but in sessional carers meetings. Some parents felt that places offered with free tickets were accessible, however; they were not necessarily inclusive in terms of their practice and activities.

School Clubs

There are currently a couple of special schools offering after school clubs in the borough. Mainstream schools run many clubs after school including arts, cookery, music, dance etc. This should be mirrored at special schools in the borough or mainstream schools should be asked to accommodate those disabled children who want to access clubs. Cambridge School run after school clubs for their pupils which are oversubscribed and they also run an open access Saturday Club for all special needs children and their siblings.

Sports clubs

There are a number of different sporting activities available in Hammersmith & Fulham for disabled children run by third sector organisations including swimming, boccia, table tennis, football and scuba diving, whilst these sports are specifically aimed at disabled children they are mainly for those over 10/11.

The Hydrotherapy pool at Jack Tizard School was open to disabled children for three weeks over the summer, with provision to stay and play which was very successful. The school is fundraising in order to open more during the holidays

There is a lack of provision for children aged 5 -11.

There are clubs that are inclusive but do not actively publicise this such as Nova Trampolining Club in Acton

Good Play Practice

Other Boroughs within London have a wider selection of services for disabled children such as the St Quentin’s Centre in Kensington and Chelsea. Within Westminster there is Lisson Green Inclusive Play, a PHAB group, Caxton Youth Organisation, a disability swimming club and the Westminster Sports Centre.

Loss of Services

Over the past few years’ disabled children have seen 2 places available for them to go and play in a safe, welcoming, fun environment either left empty and falling into disrepair whilst waiting to be sold or turned into a children’s centre that they can no longer access. This is in reference to the closing down of both the Fulham Palace Playground and the Distillery Centre.

Both these centres offered facilities suitable for disabled children including sensory rooms and accessible play equipment in secure surroundings. The closure of Fulham Palace Playground without consultation with families with disabled or vulnerable children was indicative of the councils disregard for them. No thought was given to replacing either provision or where those children might go and play.

Parents also feel that the tendering of parks facilities to private companies, in particular Rocks Lane mean that these companies (as they are not answerable to residents in the same way as the council), are able to raise prices for services and could cause parks facilities to become inaccessible for low income families.

Conclusions

Actions

“I want anything where he could interact with other kids, music, arts and crafts etc - there is just so little out there for him to do.”

 

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