Play is serious work
Posted on Friday, February 08, 2002Association of Playworkers (England)
Chris Martin CYWU member and Chair of the Association of Playworkers Associations reports on exciting developments for playworkers.
The Association of Playworkers (England) grew from the realisation of a number of playworkers that there was no national body representing the needs of playworkers. An initial national consultation led to a conference in 1999, and those attending decided to set up a steering group which led to a public launch in 2000. A constitution was adopted, and an executive, consisting mostly of face to face playworkers was voted on.
It quickly became apparent that the most important issue for members was improving the low pay and poor working conditions of most playworkers. After discussions with the larger Unions and various government departments, it became apparent that there was no definitive current nationwide information on this, and while all agreed that playworkers were underpaid, there was very little interest in helping find out the real situation. The Association decided to commission a national piece of research so we have hard evidence to use as a tool. We know playworkers are underpaid and suffer from poor working conditions, but we need the facts to convince others.
After approaching several different researchers, a company with experience in the field, Youlden and Harrison Associates, were chosen. They will be collecting data through postal questionnaires and focus groups in the nine Government Office Regions to ensure a good spread of urban and rural representation nationally. Information will be gathered from four different types of play provision; Open Access Schemes, Local Authority Playschemes, After School Clubs and Out of School Playschemes to ensure that Playworkers employed in all sectors i.e. voluntary, private and public are able to contribute to the research fully. The research is underway, with questionnaires being piloted and focus groups organised.
It soon became apparent that no matter how committed the Association was, we needed the abilities of a Union to be able to lobby and negotiate on behalf of our members. After much discussion, many meetings and phone calls, we decided to work with the CYWU, as we felt the needs of our playworkers would be best served by working with a smaller, more specialised union, where the needs of playworkers would be understood and supported. The CYWU have responded enthusiastically with concrete help and support, both with immediate assistance for the research, and practical suggestions for the longer term.
The association is in the middle of an exciting time, with many new developments in the field of play - new training initiatives, exciting funding streams, but many of these developments do not put more money in the pockets or security in the lives of those who carry out the work on the ground. We believe that by working with the CYWU we will be able to improve the working conditions of playworkers, and add a valuable voice to that of fellow professionals in the union.
For more information on the Association of Playworkers, call Chris Martin on : (01392) 383221, or email [email protected]