News Archive

Play workers join up

Posted on Friday, December 21, 2001

Chris Martin of the Association of Play workers explained to the National Executive why they want to join up with CYWU and organise through us a stronger voice for play workers across the country.

Chris described the way in which play work is still not fully appreciated outside of the sector and is still imagined as a job where workers play with small children.

In fact of course it is a skilled profession with workers working with 5 – 15 year olds to facilitate the play generated by children themselves. As with the community work and youth work skills of knowing when not to intervene, the skilled and experienced play worker understands the threshold of intervention.

Play, as CYWU made clear to the TUC in its motion last year, is not child care, though good child care work can include elements of good play work. While there has been an explosion of child care related work under the National Childcare Strategy, Sure Start and the Early Years and Child Care Partnerships, there has been no guaranteed funding for play work and the continual erosion of open access play facilities.

A few years ago the then Minister challenged the play sector to speak with a stronger voice and to create a qualifications framework. The qualifications framework has been created and the Association of Playworkers created a new voice in 1999 for workers in England.

One of the first tasks of the Association was to survey members needs. A clear message came back from the survey. Pay and conditions must be improved as an absolute priority. Irratic, short term and seasonal working and play must become a year round activity. This priority is really a trade union issue so the association considered whether to become a Union, or link up with other unions. In its exploration CYWU seemed the best prospect. The Executive of the Association is very keen to become a section within CYWU with play workers becoming part of the life of all Branches.

Chris believed that play workers have a lot to offer the Union and vice versa and that linking with CYWU creates a win win situation.

The campaign to raise the professional status of play work now enters a new chapter and CYWU will lead the struggle for enhanced pay and conditions for play workers.

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