Posts Tagged ‘Adventure Playgrounds’

AdventurePlayground2

No children playing, no children anywhere, it was dead quiet and the only people I saw were a man and a woman walking their dogs. They weren’t even together. The loneliness is palpable, and in a park like this, solitude is no good thing.

AdventurePlayground3
It’s made for happy screams and noise and laughter. Loughborough Park’s adventure playground takes up most of the park actually, making its closure even more of a loss. ‘Temporarily’ closed in August of last year (for more details check out the Brixton Blog or the privatisation scandal and accusations of child abuse here or video on the coopertive council’s impact on kids taken at Loughborough park here), this is one of four adventure playgrounds still closed in Lambeth.

AdventurePlayground4

I was there at the council meeting in April 2011, when a furious Steve Reed speaking for Lambeth Council said Lambeth SOS was lying to children and that no adventure playgrounds would be closed.  He looked kids in the eyes in fact, when he said no playgrounds would be closed. He didn’t stop the budget being slashed by 70% though. The playgrounds only opened a few hours a week, most of the staff was forced to leave as they could not support themselves or their families on drastically reduced pay, and today?

This playground remains closed. Empty. Tragic. Tagged up.

There is nothing sadder than a locked playground. An investment that we made in our children’s future that sits empty and unused. Dedicated staff who changed children’s lives sacked and let go. And Loughborough Park is not the only one.

AdventurePlaygroundCouncilsite

Join us in the fight to reopen our playgrounds, save our one o’clock clubs, preserve our libraries and our wonderful librarians, and stop the cuts that are devastating our community.

Brixton Town Hall

Wednesday, 27th February

6-7pm

Lambeth council cut £12 million from youth services this year. This has meant:

  • The almost total destruction of the in-house Adventure Playground
    Services
  • Severe cut backs in opening hours in One O’clock Clubs
  • Mass sackings of dedicated children’s services staff

They mean to cut £13 million more in the coming year. I confess it makes my stomach hurt to think about how our demo on Saturday fits into our history and our present circumstances.

Croydon riots

A society that believes in its own future cares for its youth, nurtures its youth, provides for its youth.

Our government is turning its back on our future.

Even in the face of riots we are watching the destruction of desperately needed services and the sacking of those who have dedicated their lives to our youth, at the very time we need to be building and improving them, at the very time when quality jobs are most desperately needed.

Massing in the square with us was a ‘march for black justice, black unity and against deaths in custody and state brutality’ called by the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM). It underlined the point that there are two paths down which a government can choose to tread, that of caring for youth, or that of repression and incarceration. Who chose to move towards the second? But we have. Prison populations in the UK have hit record highs, and it is vital that we recognise the deep racism inherent in our system made so visible in the racial breakdown of arrests and convictions. In march, Met officers were asked to explain why Blacks were the victims of tasering at such a higher rate (50% of recorded taserings, though about 2% of the population). Since then more black men have died in police custody, joining a list of 3,180 people who have died since 1969.  These are two sides of the same campaign and we need to combine and fight for both: to stop rising incarceration and repression, and to preserve and expand our youth services.

So we fight now, but there are not enough of us. The rally was lovely I thought, especially the One O’clock Club choir! But I could not disagree with the disappointment expressed by one of the One O’Clock Club workers. She asked just where were the parents and the children who use their services, now that we must fight to keep them? Now is the time to think about what we do next, how we do it better, how we can build a movement large enough to shape our own future.

As Labour Party councillor Kingsley Abrams has said “We have to stand up and fight the Condem cuts. It wasn’t the young people that caused the economic crises – it was the bankers. Yet youth unemployment has risen to nearly 1million, the EMA cut, tuition fees tripled and local Councils are closing down youth centres and adventure playgrounds. Oppose all cuts and fight for the alternative.”

Our next public meeting will be in central Brixton next Thursday. We will be discussing the riots, the cuts, and the impact on young people in the borough and we want to hear you views.

Please come and bring your friends, family and colleagues. You can also find the event on Facebook – please circulate widely and invite your friends!

Download the leaflet: After the riots: the future for young people leaflet Aug 2011

We are now facing the myriad of cuts as they come through thick and fast, devastating everything we have fought for and built over the years. The community meeting was the first step in fighting the cuts to youth services.

Everyone in that room on Tuesday night said things far more powerfully and beautifully that I could do. Here are some of the highlights I jotted down (and apologies for sketchy notes and no pictures!). I felt immensely proud to be part of this community as I sat and listened:

“It’s so cynical how the council is running things down, they know young people can’t fight back and can’t vote. The council is saying they are protecting front-line services but they are not at all protected. We are not open tonight, we might not be open tomorrow night.”

“The kids at Max Roach are a family, they stick by each other. This will break down this family, the spirit and unity of the community. As a single parent my son doesn’t have a male role model, but black role models are exactly what the centre provides, they make sure our sons have something to aspire to. If people don’t stand up and fight together nothing will change, and things will just get worse.”

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