Opinion Former Article

Big Lottery Fund: United through play - lottery funding goal

A play project to help children through the daunting experience of visiting a parent in jail is among those to benefit from awards announced today by the Big Lottery Fund.

The Fund's Playful Ideas programme, that funds innovative approaches to play, has today awarded £243,437 to Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) for a play project working with three prisons in the South West.

Meanwhile in Lancashire, funding is helping to encourage children across a range of abilities, including special needs, to play together.

Sanjay Dighe, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund's England Committee, said: "These projects are introducing new approaches in the use of play, bringing unique benefits for the children involved. Whether it's using play as a way to help children get through difficult situations or to get young people of all abilities playing together, Playful Ideas is funding innovative projects that have a real impact on children's lives and development."

Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) will use the money to provide support and play opportunities for children visiting fathers or other family members at Exeter, Dartmoor or Channings Wood prisons. Through play, PACT will create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere for children to help them through the intimidating environment of a prison. The project aims to get the best out of the limited time available for both the parent and visiting child, helping to maintain a positive long-term relationship.

When a child arrives, often after a long journey, at one of the prison's visitor centres they will be able to play with a selection of toys and games to help them feel more settled. Play workers from PACT will also help children through their visit, including the security procedures. Child friendly information will also be available for children, providing them with a greater understanding of the issues and procedures they may face during the visit.

Dan Howell, PACT South West Development Manager, said: "This award will allow us to make the visiting process easier for children, it will enable us to be sensitive to their needs and provide play equipment. Within the visiting hall and in extended 'Family days' we will work with parent, family and child to encourage greater interaction through play and to help the imprisoned parent to understand how such play can help to build positive and sustained relationships.

"Our project considers the welfare of a marginalised group of children in the immediate term but importantly, research will state, the maintenance and development of a strong family bond will greatly enhance their future prospects and social inclusion."

In Rochdale and Middleton a grant of £247,125 awarded to Rochdale and District Play Action Council (RADPAC) will get youngsters of all abilities playing together, regardless of their differences.

The RADPAC Play and Freetime Opportunities for All project, based in the special needs units of two new schools, will continue to remove barriers that exclude children from play and social interaction through developing awareness of issues surrounding children with disabilities and additional needs.

Hundreds of children including those with special needs or disabilities aged five to 16 years old will be able to participate together in a range of sports, arts and crafts activities facilitated by play workers with specific inclusion training.

Helen Duncan, Manager of RADPAC, said: "The organisation is delighted to be in receipt of this Lottery grant. This grant will give children, including those with disabilities/special educational needs the opportunity to participate in quality play activities that will help to promote individual social and emotional well being.

"The project will help to highlight the importance and benefits of disabled children being given the opportunity to play and socialise with their peers and siblings in a play environment. The venues being utilised are two new Co-located schools where disabled and mainstream children enjoy education on one site. This project will provide an opportunity for children to play and have fun, whilst having use of extra resources such as sensory and soft play areas. "

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030 Textphone: 0845 6021 659

Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

Notes to Editors
. The Big Lottery Fund will support children's play with £155 million through:
- the £124 million Children's Play programme, with funds available to every local authority area in England;
- a separate £16 million Playful Ideas programme focussing on innovation;
- and a £15 million grant to the Children's Play Council, part of the National Children's Bureau, to fund England-wide development and support.

. Under the Children's Play programme, in deciding how best to allocate the available funds to each authority the Big Lottery Fund have allocated: 50 per cent of the funding on the basis of child population, and 50 per cent of the regional population living in the most deprived 20% of Super Output Areas included in the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004. The minimum amount allocated to any local authority is £200,000.
. Under Playful Ideas registered charities; voluntary or community groups; charitable or not-for-profit companies; social enterprises; and town and parish councils can apply. However, other organisations, such as schools, can work in partnership on Playful Ideas projects.
. The Big Lottery Fund awarded a grant to the Children's Play Council a strategic alliance of organisations working to promote the importance of play and to stimulate better play opportunities. Play England - a project of the Children's Play Council - lead on this work by helping agencies to develop play strategies and apply for Children's Play funding. For further information please visit www.ncb.org.uk
. The Big Lottery Fund rolls out close to £2 million in lottery good cause money every 24 hours, which together with other Lottery distributors means that across the UK most people are within a few miles of a Lottery-funded project.

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