HAVE SOFT PLAYS BEEN YOUR SANCTUARY?
Posted by Kat Heath on 30 Jul 2020
We have all had days where Soft Play is our sanctuary. For me it’s often Week 3 into the summer holidays or a rainy Thursday afternoon when nothing else will keep the kids entertained and you from going round the bend.
The delight of entering a colourful Mecca of plastic ball pits and sensory zones which will entertain your little cherubs for a couple of hours whilst you order copious amounts of coffee to me is heaven on a rainy afternoon when you all need to get out of the four walls of your house.
On March 20th 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced indoor facilities such as Soft Play would remain closed until further notice due to the unprecedented Coronavirus outbreak.
Although receiving initial business grants to help support the many soft play businesses across the country these grants are now beginning to dwindle and with no indication into when or how these soft play venues will reopen many are at threat of closure with some in the country already closed down.
The Association of Play Industries have criticised the government for their lack of clarification in regards to when Soft Play areas can reopen as financial concerns within the industry continues to grow.
They have suggested various implementations are in place to ensure safe opening of Soft Plays are an achievable possibility such as:
Visitor restrictions and using electrostatic spray to prevent the lingering of viruses on surfaces.
However the government clarify that outdoor play areas are less likely spread the virus than indoor.
‘Virus can survive for up to several days on some hard surfaces, particularly indoors.
These risks are reduced when outdoors, where surfaces are subject to U.V light and or rain.” (Government Website)
Regardless of the science, one thing that is becoming increasingly evident amongst the coronavirus pandemic is the decline in children and parents mental health.
The Children’s Trust reports;
‘Children are developing serious mental health conditions because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many facing social isolation…the loss of routine, contact with friends is like a bereavement.’
This loss of interaction between other children has been heightened by the closure of playgroups and schools throughout the last few months and as we head for the summer holidays this will be prolonged even more.
Many Soft Play centres host NCT groups, baby and toddler classes and fill a void left by the controversial mass closure of Sure Start Centres.
They act as a lifeline for many new mums who can also feel isolated after having a baby.
They are a community hub where you can relax in the knowledge your child is safe and enjoy a cuppa whilst meeting other parents who are going through the same struggles as you.
They allow your child to release their energy, lose themselves in imaginative play, they allow for interactive and sensory play encouraging social interaction with other children.
They are allowed to be children which is a notion that is also becoming threatened.
‘To grow and develop, children need time to play.’ (NHS website)
For more information on how you can save our soft plays from closure visit this petition.