Steve McCabe MP, Shadow Minister for Children and Families will present the first screenings of two films championing equalities on Friday 16th January at the Midlands Art Centre in Cannon Hill Park Birmingham.
Birmingham based organisations Parks for Play and Dens of Equality, are co hosting this event. where the ‘Making the Case for Equal Access to Work’ and ‘Inclusive Play in Birmingham’ films will be shown. The occasion marks the launch of two campaigns; one to create equal access to employment across Europe and one to create equal access to play in England.
Parks for Play, a ten year old charity providing affordable, inclusive leisure, play and childcare services to local children in Hall Green is leading on the call for a Europe wide charter. This aims to stop families with disabled children being denied access to work because of a lack of childcare. Parks for Play caters for all children but gives local children with higher individual needs priority access to their services. The charity runs the first specialist afterschool childcare provision in England
Steve McCabe MP said “The significant numbers of children with disabilities in Birmingham means that access to employment for parents with a disabled child is a real issue. This situation will only get worse unless we act now to improve provision for this group. The recent All Party Parliamentary Report from the Every Disabled Child Matters enquiry into childcare for disabled children highlighted the fact that 41% of families with a disabled child are unable to access the existing free 15 hours of provision for 3 and 4 year olds because of poor provision and 86% of parents were paying way above the average for child care because of their child’s condition.’
Parks for Play chair, Amanda Bradley, working mother of three children , one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, humorously describes her boomerang journey to find funding for the charity’s specialist childcare service ‘commissioning officers repeatedly pushed my requests back towards one depleted funding pot for disabled children. Our search for childcare is an employment issue being raised by families that are rejecting benefit dependency and requesting the right to contribute. I also want to protect play services that allow all my children to attend together and benefit equally from customized play provision that embraces diversity and stretches their experience’.
In England play is not a statutory duty and funding for play services has been decimated across the country. In response, Dens of Equality is launching a campaign in recognition of the value of PLAY to produce a motion that will make play a charitable object to attract funding in its own right. The organization has supported twenty family-led groups to raise four million pounds to put disabled children and young people at the centre of new inclusive play and youth services. Steve McCabe MP has said “We are all conscious of the loss of provision resulting from the austerity of the last five years. Play is important in building resilience in children and connecting communities.”
Laura Watts of Dens of Equality believes that ‘community play is the most valuable and cost effective resource we have available to grow resilient children, families and communities. If funding is forthcoming and fairly distributed so that play provision reaches out to get it right for those children most at risk of social exclusion, absolutely everyone will reap the benefits.’