Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I must be feeling better

There's nothing like the feeling of raw anger surging through my body to make me realise that I must be feeling a bit better. And what is the cause of my current ire? It's one of those quangos which is currently leeching off the public purse in order to provide non-jobs for people who appear to be incapable of working in the real world.

Allow me to introduce you to the wonderfully named organisation: "Play England". This Lottery funded ragbag of do-gooders is part of the NCB. This 'charity' was founded in 1963 as the National Bureau for Cooperation in Childcare but now calls itself NCB. It has a staff of 270 and an annual budget of £19 million - most of which comes from the public purse! Its subsidiary Play England has the following flaky objectives:
  • promote local play strategies
  • build partnerships for play
  • research and demonstrate the benefits of play
  • promote equality and diversity in play provision
  • raise awareness and promote standards
Apparently it does this by providing:
  • resources and information
  • training, conferences and seminars
  • networking and referrals
  • advocacy and campaigning support
The NCB is currently moaning that the budget cuts proposed by the new leaders of our bankrupt nation will interrupt their vital work and harm play. Now, I know that turkeys don't particularly relish the sight of an Advent calendar being pinned on the wall, but it's this sort of bollocks (along with Five-a-Day coordinators and Diversity Tzars) that's got us into the supersize heap of financial crap we're currently covered in. 

I don't ever remember anyone needing to teach me how to play. Children seem to manage to play and amuse themselves and each other quite easily without some twerp called Damien or India showing them how to kick a ball or climb a tree. Surely these people aren't using children as an excuse to dip their hands in the nation's piggybank, are they?

Rant over!


  1. Hmm, 'networking' - isnt that what people do at parties when they dont have any real friends to talk to. 'seminars' - aren't those the places where people listen to other people talk bollocks and then have extra-marital sex in their (paid for by us) hotel rooms. I wonder if they will give me a job?
    I suggest they leave a child in a room with a pile of cardboard boxes, a curtain and a pen. I am sure they will find something to do without any assistance from a 'play-coordinator' - ugh, even that phrase makes me shudder.

  2. I wish it were so, but alas, children are not having er allowed free play. That is what most likely you and I did as kids, make up our own games, rules etc. So much of our children's lives are being structured so that they have little time if any to just play. I have been with kids who didn't know how to organize a game on their own. Many look to adults to solve simple conflicts.
    So many kids are being coddled and prevented from taking ANY risk at all. Helicopter parents are doing WAY too much for their children and do the organizing of play groups, games etc. Never mind being allowed to climb a tree! (they may fall and hurt themselves or damage the tree).
    So much emphasis is being made on academic success that preschoolers aren't being allowed to just create or play without interference from adults.
    The research and information is for butt out and let kids be kids. Adults need to learn that free play (as opposed to organized play) is healthy and teaches more than lessons on increasing your child's self esteem and actually prepares them for success in academics.
    It is really sad that these groups are needed. I must admit that I am one of those promoting free play. I'm astounded that so many parents are not letting their children do what they themselves did as kids. I don't understand the thinking behind that.
    It was earlier this month (I think) that there was a day set aside to let your kids play in the playground without parents. Opponents thought that the organizer was setting kids up to be molested or abducted even though the vast majority of molestations and abductions are by people who the child knows and trusts.
    You're a writer, investigate if parents are being pain in the butts for post-secondary institutions-running interference when their precious has an issue with a prof or completes the application for the child. In North America universities and colleges hold orientation seminars for parents! In my day we were dropped off at the college or train depot and had to make it on our own. Not anymore. Apparently some parents even help set up their precious' cubicle for their first job! Some employers have even had parents try to negotiate pay raises!
    ok, there's my essay! Don't get me started on how boys are being denied being boys!

    Glad you're perking up and becoming disgruntled. A good sign indeed.

  3. Makes me mad, that kids are not being allowed to use their imaginations to play, the parents are always hovering over them in protection mode, correcting them and doing everything for them.

    This coddling is harmfull and the child grows up conditioned, unimaginative and fearfull of making an error, thus the child is afraid to learn.

    My three boys in turn, at the age of three were always facinated when watching DIY jobs done about the house. They always want to take part in what the parents are doing, if not then they will feel left out, unwanted or do not belong.

    I gave all my boys at age 3 , wood, hammer, saw, nails , nuts , bolts etc. They were all happy to construct things, this kept them amused for hours, sparked their imagination and creativity, and they felt they were part of what we were doing.

    Because of me involving them in all DIY tasks, they are all grown adults and are a dab hand at DIY themselves.

    I let them play in the mud, climb trees, get dirty, and help me cook in the kitchen. Now my eldest is a master chef with more certificates than space on a wall to put them on. My other two lads are mechanics .

    I think I did a good job of bringing them up, their father never bothered with them and spent his time in the bookies or abusing me, no financial help and working three jobs to pay the bills , yes , I know I did do a good job .


  4. I don't disagree with what you're saying, Libby. However, I just wouldn't trust these people to be able to translate their £19 million budget into a strategy that actually teaches free play. I've got a thing about what I call 'fake charities' - publicly funded organisations that no longer run children's homes or help the sick, poor and hungry, but who spend their time hanging around Westminster lobbying politicians, producing glossy reports and forever launching new websites. I'm convinced most of the UK's graphic designers are kept in beer by our burgeoning 'third sector'.

  5. Dear Traction Man,
    I'm so glad you're feeling better and getting cross. I do so agree with you about the "Play England" con I mean quango full of useless parasites. I think the Tax Payers' Alliance had a thing about them some time ago, if not I'm sure they'd love to hear from you. If your blood pressure's at all dodgy make sure you take 2 Atenolol or similar before checking out their website Keep ranting.

  6. Fake Quango I'd love it :) Give me some of that money to think about PLAY !!! Yes please and I'd need a decent wage NOT to join in with paint cardboard boxes and messy stuff !

    On a serious note its wrong if children are being stiffled but so many and so much money?

    Right off to climb a tree :) and route out the play dough :) Yippee :)

  7. I didn't mention that I'd like 19million pds ($28,807,101.73 CAD) to play with. It does seem like a lot of money, I wonder what they spend it on. Other than lunches and nice offices. Most of the groups that promote play in N.A. are funded by gov't (very little), private donors and fundraising and are part of organizations. It isn't the only thing they do. That's a big organization that runs on $28mil. That would pay for a lot of fresh food in hospitals wouldn't it? I doubt a budget cut would harm play...their play maybe. It really shouldn't take much to encourage people to let children play, just using avenues that are available.
    We have our wasters also that make us go "eh?"


  8. If everything about Play is so cushy, how is it that kids today get out to play a fraction of the time we used to? Let me see - how about .... every street where they used to play out is now choked up with cars ... an adult toy. Or, every time they do, someone moans at them. Or parents fear for their safety (sometimes with reason, but not always). The Tax Payers Alliance is not noted for its concern for kids or their play. Or can we look at governments who seem to want to fill up kids days with everything except play. Or local councils who seem to make their first cuts in play provision. Play England may not be perfect, but it has had some success in fighting for Play, making sure that government has spent more after decades of neglect, of making sure that some lottery money goes to new play facilities not just opera grants, adult sports etc. Making councils wake up a bit to the fact their local play facilities have been sh*te, boring, badly-funded. Adults arts, leisure, sport etc - what have they been getting from the public purse in the UK, from the Lottery? Go and find out, and then ask if children get anything like a fair proportion of that for their leisure in terms of their numbers in the population. By the way I am part of Fair Play for Children, we have no government grant, we have lost half our staff (2 down to 1) this month and we will have under £30k to do our work on. Our staff member has to work from home. How much did you say the TPA runs on? Do its workers run it all from home using nous and IT?

    "Using avenues that are available"? Sorry eko, your cars have taken all the space there used to be for kids to play out, and the park is across a lethal road so mum is scared to let them go to it. The reason we need advocacy for Play is because selfish adults forgot about what makes kids tick and shoved them out of public places and spaces. Try opening your myopic eyes. Play England is only necessary because selfish adults have created a world unfit for our children to play in.

  9. I've nothing against children being encouraged to play... I just don't think it needs a bunch of superannuated pen-pushing bureaucrats to do it. The so-called 'third sector' is a swollen featherbedded beast in this country that exists more to coddle its employees than to serve its clients.

  10. I'm with you TM.

    I used to take/encourage my children to play when they were small, fields puddles etc dragged them sulking to go and then had to drag them sulking when they didn't want to come home :) I was often amazed how many of their friends didn't own wellies or were amazed that grass actually grew beyond football field height. !! Maybe parents should take a little responsibility. But would they have listened to over blown bureaucrats?

    Protect play areas and open spaces definitely encourage activity and imagination but spend wisely. Teenagers are the ones who seem to get a raw deal to me as they don't necessarily want to climb trees or be seen wearing wellies unless its at a festival.

  11. PS I can't get over how cross people get when sat in front of a computer. You can almost feel the anger when they type. Is this like road rage? Has anybody done any research? can I set up a Quango? xxx :)

  12. I'm with you, TM. The problem with these quangos is that they have no sunset clause. If you leave them to it, they'll keep going and going until every square inch on the countryside is covered in soft fall mats, slides and monkey bars (are they still allowed?)

    More likely, the proportion of budget spent on internal bureaucracy will grow and grow until they reach the point where they spend 100% of their budget on money, junkets, glossy brochures, better offices, reports, community consultation, diversity outreach, consultants and seminars and nothing on playgrounds.

  13. If they stopped building houses on parkland, we might get somewhere. We're losing green space by the bucketful because Persimmons/Balfour Beattie/Wimpey have decided to plonk their identikit 'luxury' residences where kids used to play. It would also help adults stay healthy; not everyone has a gym membership believe it or not, and young mums don't have many places that they can take the wean with them.

  14. I've missed a lot of your blogs over the last 2 months TM, but i'm going to catch up, i promise!

    Since the tragic loss of my girlfriend in hospital 4 months ago, i've been spending some time out in the real world, catching up with friends i'd lost touch with, one of the is actually my god-daughter, and her two lovely kids who i hadn't met until now.

    Her eldest, a lively little lad who loves playing outside in the dirt with his toy diggers and cars, regularly runs around the family home in nothing but a t-shirt and a pair of wellies... he's one of the most well adjusted kids i've ever seen, if he falls over and gets dirty, there's no urgent rush to the bathroom to shower the dirt away, nor is there a mad rush to the nearest hospital (over 30 miles away) if he trips and hurts his knee on the real welsh slate floor. He picks himself up and carries on. His mother, doesn't wrap him in cotton wool because she (and i) feel that thats what is up with most kids these days, over protective parents and stupid 'health and safety' rules to try and protect the kids from harm.
    All they do is harm the kids, and cause them to see an accident (like tripping over on the school playground) as an excuse to sue someone...
    As for the quangos, they should close down at least 75% of the as of now, they are one of the reasons the country is in the financial mess it is right now.

  15. Good to have you back, Wayne. I hope things are looking up for you.

  16. Richard Holmes19 June 2010 at 20:53

    I think Play England would fully endorse Wayne's comment that children cannot play properly nowadays; it's exactly what they are trying to do. Quango's are not really the reason that this country is in the mess it's in. The main reasons are (1) Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, dramatically lowered American interest rates in 2001, triggering a worldwide credit boom, (2) Noone did anything to contain the housing bubble in this country, and (3) Banks lent too much money to high risk customers. Citizens and government over-borrowed and over-spent, and that is what we are having to pay for now.

    As for Play England, it's 19 million budget is 0.001% of the national deficit, so scrapping it will do nothing to improve the finances of the nation. I'd rather see that money spent on making measurable improvements for children's play, like simply more places to play - there's hardly anywhere to play any more.

    Britain is, according to UNICEF, the second worst place in the developed world to be a child. That's not healthy, and certainly nothing to be proud of, especially given that the UK is still a relatively wealthy country, there's no excuse for making so many children's lives so miserable.