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Powys' Play Sufficiency Assessment Executive Summary 2022

Introduction

Each Local Authority in Wales is required to undertake a Play Sufficiency Assessment (PSA) every three years and produce an annual action plan. They must demonstrate that they have taken into account and assessed the matters set out in the PSA (Wales) Regulations 2012 and Statutory guidance.

Play is a recognised right of children under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child -  Article 31 and General Comment 17.

'Play encompasses children's behaviour which is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. It is performed for no external goal or reward and is a fundamental and integral part of healthy development - not only for individual children, but also for the society in which they live'.
Welsh Government 'Creating a Play Friendly Wales' 2012

 

Play Wales states that playing is one of the easiest and most natural ways that children of any age can engage in necessary levels of physical activity. The Welsh Government's Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales consultation lists play as a main influencer on children's healthy weight behaviours.

The National Assembly for Wales 2019 paper 'Physical Activity of Children and Young People' cites the new curriculum as an opportunity to increase physical activity within schools,  recommending that all schools should provide wider access to their school activity facilities to local communities, to encourage more physical activity outside the school day.

Powys County Council recognises that 'for children to have sufficient play opportunities, they need time to play, space to play and the recognition by adults that this is every child's right so that all children are allowed this time and space'.    

Wales - A Play Friendly Country 2014

This Play Sufficiency Assessment has been an opportunity to review our work and activities over the past 3 years since the previous assessment was completed, as part of the commissioning cycle. We have many partners and stakeholders in Powys who are committed to creating a play friendly society that offers a wide range of play and recreational opportunities and to supporting our children and young people to access these opportunities.

 

Stakeholders involved in completing the 2022 PSA

Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations' Health and Wellbeing Team, led by Lucy Taylor, Start Well Development Officer, was commissioned by Powys County Council to undertake the 2022 Play Sufficiency Assessment, liaising with Powys County Council services, partners and organisations and meeting with Play Wales.

Completion was overseen by the responsible officer, Jenny Ashton, Service Strategy and Development Manager and Rhys Stephens, Service Development Officer, and the final report was approved by Cllr David Selby, Cabinet Member for a More Prosperous Powys.

Contributing services, partners and organisations included:

  • Action for Children
  • Active Travel Services
  • Business Intelligence
  • Childcare Business Support
  • Childcare Sufficiency Officer
  • Children's Commissioning and Transformation Team
  • Children's Services
  • Communications and Engagement Officer
  • Corporate Property
  • Councillors
  • Credu Young Carers
  • Disability Sport Wales Development Officer
  • Dyfed Powys Police
  • Education
  • Family Information Service
  • Flying Start
  • Freedom Leisure
  • Healthy Schools/ Healthy Pre schools
  • Highways Services
  • Housing Services
  • Impelo (formerly Powys Dance)
  • Integrated Children's Disability Service
  • Junior Start Well Board
  • Library Services
  • Local Service Board
  • Mudiad Meithrin
  • Outdoor Recreation Team
  • Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations
  • Planning Services
  • Play Networks
  • Public Health
  • Schools Service
  • Sport Powys
  • Sustainable Futures Officer
  • Town and Community Councils
  • Traffic and Road Safety
  • Training Department
  • Transport Services
  • Travelling Ahead: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Advice and Advocacy Service
  • Urdd
  • Web Applications Team
  • Welsh Language Officer
  • Youth Participation and Engagement Officer
  • Youth Services

 

How did we do it?

Covid-19 restrictions meant that much of the work could not be undertaken face to face and was conducted by phone and online.  Semi-structured online meetings and discussions were held with lead professionals associated with policy areas identified in play sufficiency guidance; stakeholders and partners were invited to online meetings to discuss the assessment and emailed to request updates on their work in relation to relevant criteria.  

An online and paper play survey was circulated to children, young people, parents, play work, youth work, leisure/recreation and childcare settings, professionals and Town and Community Councils.  Feedback, using the survey, was obtained from children and young people at play events.

Engagement, both online and where possible face to face took place with parents/carers, professionals and marginalised groups.  Engagement with schools took place both online and through the Powys County Council Wellbeing and Equalities Lead Officer. 

Information was gathered from existing sources including Children's Commissioning, Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, Education, Planning, Family Information Service, Leisure and Recreation departments.  Population data was mainly obtained from the Powys Wellbeing Information Bank.

 

What people said

456 responses to the play survey were received from across the county and they of course differ from area to area.  The questions were not mandatory, so response rates varied from question to question.  Overall, 57% of respondents were allowed to play on their own and 76% with a friend (both options could be ticked).  14% were not allowed to play or hang out at all; while it was not made clear, the assumption is that this was as a result of the pandemic.

When asked to specify what is good and could be better about play in their area, the 'good' tended to focus, apart from football, on the overall environment, possibly a reflection of life in a very rural county.   The 'could be better' aspect, on the other hand, produced quite a specific wish list and echoed many themes from previous assessments. 

What's good           

  • Lots of space 
  • Parks 
  • Friends
  • Trees, woods, forests
  • Football (a few said that boys and football can dominate the play space)
  • Safe
  • Peaceful
  • Lake at Llandrindod Wells, canoes, boats and a sand pit

What could be better

  • More equipment, more football, better goals
  • Fewer cars, slower traffic
  • Skate park, Water park, bike tracks
  • A youth club, more things for teenagers to do, covered space to hang out
  • More things for toddlers and under 2s
  • Grass area by estates, so kids have more local areas to play
  • A bus to get to facilities
  • Less dog poo

Do you feel safe when playing or hanging out?

  • Always   42%
  • Usually   56%
  • Never     2%

How are adults with you playing or hanging out?

  • Great and happy 48%
  • OK and alright     43%
  • Some are grumpy and don't like children playing or hanging out  8%
  • Most are grumpy and hate children playing or hanging out           1%

How are the places where you play or hang out?

  • Great, I can do all the things I like           40%
  • OK, I can do some of the things I like       56%
  • Rubbish, I can't do any of the things I like 4%

How did Covid affect where you could play or hang out?

  • They've changed since the pandemic                49%
  • I can still hang out in all of the places I'd like to  51%

 

 

Insights from the Coronavirus

Covid-19 had a severe impact on all areas of the Council's work, particularly on staff, service providers and those who require support from Social Services, requiring the redeployment of staff from other services under the Business Continuity Plan, which was triggered in March 2021. 

Services operated under the business-critical mandate until early May 2022, when areas apart from social services, public protection and HR, returned to near business as usual as Wales reduced its alert level status.  However, the continuity plan was re-introduced late August, when the County saw a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases particularly among young people as a new virus wave affected the country, and was only stepped back again in October 2021.  This, combined with the restrictions imposed by Covid regulations, inevitably limited the ability of some services to progress elements of the Action Plan, although many of the actions have been completed. 

A survey carried out in schools across the county found that while at home during lockdown 94% of pupils were engaged in activities such as walking, arts, yoga, dance, sports, Joe Wickes fitness and wellbeing activities that they accessed individually or with their families.  However, a comprehensive report on Community Wellbeing in Powys post Pandemic found that there was an overwhelming view of negative impacts experienced by children and young adults because of the pandemic. This included the impact on physical and mental health, on education and on Welsh language skills.

Covid was a huge stumbling block for all services, although new initiatives and ways of working did come out of it.   Even though services were paused and there were a number of restrictions in place it has been evident that play has still been able to happen during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some delivery was enabled through online platforms and social media; however, some young people and families have fed back that they miss face to face delivery and would prefer this option, as much of day to day life was only available online.

 

 

Key findings 2019 - 2022 (since the 2016 - 2019 assessment)

The overall RAG status for Matter A has been upgraded from amber to green.  

All other Matters remain overall at amber, which indicates that not all of the criteria for those matters have been fully met.  However, of 100 separate criteria in Matters B to I, the majority, 57, are green,or fully met, 40 are amber, partial met, and only 3 are red, not met, as detailed in the overview below.

Matter A: Population

The Play Sufficiency Assessment should provide an overview of population and demographic data used locally to plan for play provision.

RAG Status for Matter A

A comprehensive range of data is available, although it is at times difficult to access, so it is assessed that the criteria for this matter have been fully met; this is upgraded, as the criteria were only partially met in 2019.

Criteria fully met

Green

 

Matter B: Providing for Diverse Needs 

The Play Sufficiency Assessment should present data about how the Local Authority and partners aim to offer play opportunities that are inclusive and encourage all children to play and meet together.

RAG Status for Matter B

6/10 criteria are amber, 4/10 are green.  This remains unchanged from the 2019 assessment.

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

Matter C: Space available for children to play: Open Spaces and Outdoor unstaffed designated play spaces

The Local Authority should recognise that all open spaces within their area are potentially important areas where children can play or pass through to reach other play areas or places where they go.

RAG Status for Matter C

Overall, 11/17 criteria are green and 6/17 are amber.

For the Open Spaces criteria, 5/6 are green, but this is let down by the criterion for Brownfield sites, which is amber. However, this has been upgraded from the previous assessment.

For Outdoor Unstaffed Designated Play Areas, 6/11 are green and the remaining 5 are amber, 2of which, the development of a new fixed play provision standard and recognition of the importance of playing fields when making disposal decisions, have been downgraded, having previously been assessed as green.

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

Matter D: Supervised provision

The Local Authority should aim to offer a range of supervised play provision.

RAG Status for Matter D

11/13 criteria are green, with 2, staffed playwork and Youth Service provision, being upgraded from amber in the previous assessment.  Only 2/13 are still rated as amber, so overall the criteria are almost fully met and the aim will be to fully meet these criteria by the time of the next assessment.

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

Matter E: Charges for play provision

The Local Authority should consider which play opportunities involve a charge and the extent to which the Local Authority takes these charges into account in assessing for sufficient play opportunities for children living in low income families as set out in the Statutory Guidance.

RAG Status for Matter E

6/8 criteria are green, with only 2/8 assessed as amber, although 1 of these, recording of no cost/low cost provision, has been downgraded, having previously been assessed as green.   As with Matter D, the aim will be to fully meet these criteria by the time of the next assessment.

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

Matter F: Access to space/provision

The Local Authority should consider all the factors that contribute to children's access to play or moving around their community.

RAG Status for Matter F

13/20 criteria are green with 3, plan to improve walking and cycling access, publicising information contributing to positive community attitudes to play and engaging with the media to encourager positive portrayal of play, upgraded from amber in the 2019 assessment.  6/20 are amber and 1/20, consideration of access to play in transport decision making, is red

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

Matter G: Securing and developing the play workforce

The Local Authority should provide information on the organisational structure of the policy area which manages the play agenda and the play workforce.

RAG Status for Matter G

5/11 criteria are greenand 6/11 are amber. This remains unchanged from the 2019 assessment.

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

Matter H: Community engagement and participation

The Local Authority should consult widely with children, their families and other stakeholders on their views on play provision.  It should also promote wide community engagement in providing play friendly communities.

RAG Status for Matter H

1/2 criteria is green,  1/2 is amber.  This also remains unchanged from the 2019 assessment

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

Matter I: Play within all relevant policy and implementation agendas

The Local Authority should examine all its policy agendas for their potential impact on children's opportunities to play and embed targets and action to enhance children's play opportunities within all such policies and strategies.

RAG Status for Matter I

6/19 criteria are green, 11/19 are amber and 2/19 are red. Again, this remains unchanged from the 2019 assessment.

Criteria partially met

Amber

 

In summary, the overall assessment for 8 of the 9 matters remains unchanged at amber, with only Matter A, Population Summary, being upgraded to green.  4 matters, Matter B, Providing for Diverse Needs, Matter G, Securing and Developing the Play Workforce, Matter H, Community Engagement and Participation and Matter I, Play within Policy and Implementation Agendas, recorded no change in the rating of all individual criteria. 

A total of 5 criteria from Matter D, Supervised Provision, and Matter F, Access to Space/Provision, were upgraded from amber to green, 1 criterion from Matter E was downgraded from green to amber and in Matter C,  Space Available for Play, 1 was upgraded from red to amber and 2 were downgraded from green to amber. 

This must all be viewed in the unique context of the assessment period, which was largely overshadowed by the Covid pandemic and the implementation of Business Continuity for much of the time.  However, as the detailed evidence for each of the criteria illustrates, considerable work did take place and much progress was made on many fronts.  

3 criteria remain red, indicating that action has yet to be taken, but again this should be viewed in context and these areas will be flagged as priorities for action in the coming period.  The shortfalls recorded against various criteria have also enabled us to identify other priorities for action, some of which are carried forward from the 2019 action plan, as Covid restrictions and limitations meant that they have yet to be fully implemented.  We will discuss these with a range of partners, services and organisations to agree joint action plans and priorities over the coming three years. 

 

How we will develop and deliver the Action Plan

Through the Play Sufficiency Assessment, we have reviewed our work and activities over the past 3 years and identified those areas where further action is required. However, not only was progress severely impeded by the Covid pandemic, also the securing and maintaining of funding continues to be a considerable challenge and funding must once again be a key priority for action. 

What are we going to do?

The identified actions from the Sufficiency Assessment will be discussed with key individuals, services and organisations to ensure progression on a multi-agency basis. Embedding the actions within agencies' planning will be essential to achieve the outcomes required.

Who's going to lead it?

(Roles and officers / directors have recently changed so for now until an update is available)

Lead Cabinet Member for a More Prosperous Powys - Cllr David Selby

Lead Director for Economy and Environment - Nigel Brinn

Play Monitoring Group

Play is monitored through the Emotional Health and Wellbeing work stream of the Start Well Board under the Council's Health and Care Strategy, who will review progress against the plan. 

45 organisations are invited to attend, including Service Strategy and Development, Children's Commissioning,  Social Services, Youth Services, Youth Offending,  Public Health,  Police, School Services, Powys Teaching Health Board and Head teachers.  Third sector organisations include  Powys Association of Voluntary Organisatons, Windfall, Credu, Action for Children, Xenzone,  Mid and North Powys Mind and Cais.

The group is facilitated by the Council and is currently chaired by Victoria Ruff Cock, Children's Services, and Samantha Shore, Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

 

Way forward

Below is our Powys Action Plan, which has identified the priority themes for the next three years, separated into annual plans. The plan has been informed by the evidence of shortfalls, with actions identified for all areas that have been assessed as amber or red and are therefore in need of improvement, as well as feedback from services and partners who have contributed to the Assessment.

  • Actions/Priorities: Partners, services, key stakeholders, positions of influence and organisations to recognise the importance of play and acknowledge when planning, providing and delivering services.  Joint services meetings to be held throughout the year.
  • When: Each Year
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter F, Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Development of joint working, objectives and outcomes
  • When: Each Year
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter D
  • Actions/Priorities: Identify and acquire additional funding streams / grants, particularly for youth clubs and play networks.  Consider an annual small ring-fenced fund to secure playwork provision.
  • When: Each Year
  • Targets: Between partners find 1-2 additional funding streams per year
  • Link to Matters: Matter D, Matter G, Matter H
  • Actions/Priorities: Wider range of engagement and consultation events and focus groups, including specifically re Welsh speaking population), recognising UNCRC Right 12 - children have a right to a say in matters that affect them. Improve feedback loop.
  • When: Each Year
  • Targets: At least 1 engagement and consultation event per year
  • Link to Matters: Matter B, Matter C
  • Actions/Priorities: Review and extend play and playwork training offer
  • When: Each Year
  • Targets: Partners and organisations to identify and apply for funding to offer more training
  • Link to Matters: Matter G
  • Actions/Priorities: Ongoing promotion of information data points (Dewis / Info Engine) and signposting opportunities.
  • When: Each Year
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter D
  • Actions/Priorities: Make data available to others (promotion, dissemination, sharing) and for the purposes of planning.  Map future Play surveys using GIS.
  • When: Each Year
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter A, Matter B
  • Actions/Priorities: Further development of central record keeping.  Central body to take responsibility for collection of workforce data from commissioned and regulated services, akin to new approach from Social Care Wales for Social Care workforce data. Local Authorities to provide an accurate and full list of all commissioned services, regulated and non-regulated, that provide playwork services and to collate and submit the workforce data.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter E, Matter G
  • Actions/Priorities: Create central register of all open spaces and play areas and annual monitoring to confirm that safety inspections have been carried out.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: Establish what is currently available. Identify any additional requirements. Develop registers as appropriate.
  • Link to Matters: Matter C
  • Actions/Priorities: Further work with schools to develop understanding of play and community use of school grounds.Revisit communication with schools to enable more support to be given to schools with regard to outdoor activities, play and the wellbeing of children, including information and encouragement given to schools to open grounds for play e.g. Play Wales information sheets and support. Long-term plan to ensure that schools balance covid risk against access for outside agencies.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: Link with Community Focus Schools Grant and successful bids received
  • Link to Matters: Matter C, Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Support schools to take up Kerb Craft/ Cycle training within any constraints of the facilities that they have.  Review the commissioning of these programmes so that it is a requirement to work with the facilities that the school has to offer.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: Establish what provision already exists
  • Link to Matters: Matter F, Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Work with Sustrans to develop Playground based walking and cycling activities.
  • When: Year 2
  • Targets: Work with schools to enhance Kerb Craft/ Cycle training
  • Link to Matters: Matter F, Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Further development of Active Travel towns to increase walking and cycling. Consider whether there should be exceptions to the Active Travel Design Guide to enable more routes to be approved. Review classifications/ application of the guidance.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter F
  • Actions/Priorities: Support T&CCs and community groups during CAT process to consider play and learn how to carry out play value and OSA assessments.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: Make contact with T&CCs
  • Link to Matters: Matter C
  • Actions/Priorities: Further develop relationships, engagement and collaborative working with Town and Community Councils.  Use Llangattock case study as example to encourage communities to make more disabled access and provision locally.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter C, Matter H
  • Actions/Priorities: As part of the LDP review process, update Open Space Assessment,  undertake Green Infrastructure Assessment and strengthen policy framework for promoting walking and cycling opportunities. (will include relooking at standards and integration with green infrastructure. Through LDP monitor range of outdoor provision and highlight gaps to inform future plans.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter C, Matter F ,Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Ensure that protection for school playing fields is in place and applied when disposal decisions are made, through Open Spaces Assessment and LDP Policy DM3.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter C
  • Actions/Priorities: Housing to actively pursue closure of the development housing loophole, whereby planning applications can be split to reduce number of units and avoid OSA requirements.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter C
  • Actions/Priorities: Include play needs on gypsy traveller sites in the upcoming assessment of municipal housing located play areas.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter B
  • Actions/Priorities: Prioritise bilingual signage re play, including no dogs allowed.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter C, Matter F
  • Actions/Priorities: Further development of holiday play provision and opportunities for specific groups, which are currently limited and short of funding
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter D
  • Actions/Priorities: Emphasise the alternatives to fixed play equipment and promote Play Wales information and guidance to all partners regarding good play environments.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter C
  • Actions/Priorities: Development and promotion of outdoor life skills and further development of physical literacy programmes. Encourage all schools to implement Powys Playful Schools Programme and to use creative play  as a tool for wellbeing and Covid recovery. Encourage more early years settings to join Health Schools scheme.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Develop data gathering to monitor provision of regular outdoor play in schools.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Support schools to develop more out of hours opportunities for Foundation age children. Support schools to develop more lunchtime and out of hours clubs and activities and to work with Play Networks to become Playful Schools. Following pilot, roll out of national scheme on opening of school grounds outside of school hours.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Encourage and promote the benefits of older people and younger people together.  Post Covid, when allowed, extend the range of play based intergenerational activity.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter I
  • Actions/Priorities: Local Transport Plan 2020 onwards and Transport Services address the need to recognise and consider the importance of offering play opportunities for children  and identifies ways of assessing and addressing the needs of all groups including those that are often marginalised. Carry out community engagement in relation to public transport. Improve data provision to adequately evidence need.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter F, Matter I
  • ​​​​​​​Actions/Priorities: Improve bin emptying at playgrounds - separate dog poo bins.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: Discussion between Powys Services
  • Link to Matters: Matter C
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Actions/Priorities: Promote risk/benefit approach to H&S assessments, including to T&CCs.
  • When: Year 1
  • Targets: To be discussed and agreed with relevant departments
  • Link to Matters: Matter I

For further detail and information please view the full Play Sufficiency Assessment Play in Powys - Powys County Council