Scotland’s Play Awards 2016 – Winners and Commendations


Vibrant Communities – Play and Intervention – East Ayrshire

East Ayrshire Vibrant Communities

The team consists of just two workers, who work with 3-6 families, giving them dedicated play workers which make a huge impact on the lives of the families and children that they work with. The work they do really is inspirational, and they understand the value of play and demonstrate it to families. East Ayrshire Council appears to be making play a major part of their work with these at-risk families, with play workers being as involved as social workers and health workers. The Trustees agreed that this work was impressive and was certainly deserving of an award. The following is an extract from their application…

‘From family reviews and case studies, it can be shown that our play@home programme does make a difference. In particular the positive difference seen in the children can be evidenced through a marked reduction in challenging behaviours, improved speech and language skills and more positive family relationships and environments. These positive impacts are backed up also through the partnership work with multi agencies and the evaluations of the family circle charts..

Comments from families are kept as evidence too and an example of comments made from one family who participated in the play@home programme were; “(Child’s) confidence is boosted and [he] will always say hello to people he meets on his way to nursery” and “(Child’s) language is getting strong and is getting better at interacting.’


Women’s Aid – South Lanarkshire & East Renfrewshire

There is an increased focus in this organisation on helping the children together with the mother, which is having real results. The team help around 30-40 children and young people per year, often providing 1:1 support, and play is seen as crucial in helping young people engage. The team has just opened a new playroom which will help them going forward. The Trustees commend this work and maybe they might apply again in future years when it would be possible to assess the long-term impact of their work.


Earth time for All – Elgin, Moray

Earthtime for all is a small charity which provides Forest School experiences for charities, nurseries, schools and holiday playschemes.  The Trustees are pleased to make a Commendation for the innovative way the organisation has provided child-led, adventurous, woodland play across the Moray area through community engagement.


PEEK- Glasgow 


PEEK continues to do much good work with families, all of which is free, and offers a service to some of the most deprived areas of the country. However, in order to do so, it relies heavily on grant funding, and is vulnerable to any of that being cut. The services are excellent, providing a real impact and are much needed. The Trustees discussed the point of sustainability, and agreed that this was a point where they might be able to showcase the need for continued funding for services like this across Scotland. It is hoped that the Government will see that this work is central to its Play Strategy and feel that such work is not allowed to simply fall by the wayside. Here are some comments from the application from PEEK…

‘In the last 10-20years, communities across Glasgow have seen a change in their physical environment through continuous regeneration. This in turn, has had a severe impact on community cohesion and overall community spirit ‘I don’t know my neighbours anymore’. In addition to that, the increase of traffic on the road, a heightened sense of ‘health & safety’ and less accessible safe public spaces has turned children indoors and on to computer games. Street Play allows children to reclaim their community spaces for play whilst developing friendships with others.

PEEK have trained up local parents to become volunteers and to run their own play sessions in their community.
There are currently 10 Play Rangers in our PEEK Play team. One parent recently said, ‘My wee boy is profoundly deaf & has been going to street play now for years. He loves it. All the play rangers who are there understand needs. We know he is safe & cared for.’


Drum Castle – Aberdeenshire 

Drum Castle

From the beginning there was a clear vision that Drum’s play area would not be a generic place, but would fit into the ancient historic landscape, promote learning through play, and provide a special magical play place. It is a unique and special place that is imbued with the love of the 100 strong team that volunteered to make it and the happiness and limitless imagination that the children bring to it. The following is extracted from their application and the Trustees assessment which made this a very worthy Award winner.

The old play area in the woods at Drum Castle had become dilapidated and was desperately in need of being replaced. Funds, however, were in short supply with only £40,000 from a funding application available to create a new play area. It was soon realised that play area equipment was very expensive, and innovative and creative thinking had to be used in allocating budget and identifying areas where expenditure could be saved through involving volunteers and businesses.

The consultation was impressive with pupils from 13 schools asked to vote on their favourite play items, local nurseries visited to canvass the opinions of pre-5 children, and a ‘surveymonkey’ questionnaire issued to parents.

After play area providers were asked to submit designs based on the consultation results, it became quickly apparent, that to create a unique play area, there would need to be an in-house design element to allow the limited financial resources to be used to greatest effect and exceed the expectations of children. The team of garden volunteers at Drum landscaped the site to make it ready for the main equipment, before the supplier installed the central equipment pieces, then the community volunteers set about making the play area their own, with hand crafted play features throughout the play area and surrounding woodland.

A further £2,000 was spent on plants to produce a vivid landscape which is an integral part of the play space. These were planted by volunteers, including the children from the local Echt Primary who continue to contribute to the play space management.


Friends of Cuthill Park – Prestonpans, East Lothian (08796)

This is a very good example of community involvement in regenerating a playpark. The Friends of Cuthill Park raised around £100,000, and involved a spectrum of ages and generations of children in the design process. This has resulted in a modern and vibrant park which utilises natural materials and offers lots of opportunities for equipped and free play, whilst celebrating the local community. There has been lots of engagement with local schools, and there is ongoing input and evaluation from the children. Cuthill Park was a great project deemed worthy of commendation.


Off Grid Kidz- Glasgow

There is as real effort made to keep the children outside as much as possible, and during the assessment visit the children seemed to be having a great time. The staff were clearly committed to delivering a child-led play-based outdoor out of school care, and this is worthy of attention for promotion. The Trustees felt that his was a very impressive out of school care project and deserves to be commended.


Play in Hospital- Aberdeen Paediatric Hospital 

Aberdeen Children's Hospital

It was understood that children seems to be at the heart of everything, with comments boards and lots of opportunities for children to have their say. Consideration was given to children of all ages, and two children with different illnesses and conditions. Play in hospital is an areas that deserves to be showcased and Aberdeen really sets a very high standard. The staff were passionate, and the parents spoken to commented on how important the play services are. The Trustees were delighted to make this Awards. Here in their own words is an explanation of the importance of play in the Aberdeen hospital…

‘ Play has a very significant role in the hospital setting as it not only allows patients to express themselves and cope with experiences but we use play to help patients understand and cope with hospital, illness and treatments. Play is provided by qualified play staff and volunteers. Play is part of treatment so will take place in bed, in treatment rooms, clinical departments and in play/activity spaces/rooms. Play activities are used to create a link between home and hospital, help children understand and cope with illness, aid medical assessment, help patients cope with pain, create a positive experience and environment. It is also used to build self-esteem, empower patients and to have fun. The play activities provided are usually familiar to the patients, so things they would do at home, school, nursery etc to help normalise things. We provide messy play, role play, constructive play, specialised hospital play, developmental play we just do it with children & young people who may be ill or need surgery.’


The Yard – Edinburgh and East of Scotland 

The Yard

The Trustees were particularly concerned with the evolution of work over time. The Yard have diversified their funding in recent years to become less reliant on grants – there is now a real focus on raising funds, and making the most of the resources they have. In the long run, this more commercial approach is far more sustainable than relying solely on grants. They have also diversified the age range that they work with, and now work with young people up to the age of 25. The Yard continues to set high standards on a daily basis for play work in Scotland.

Here are some comments from their application…

‘Our family sessions offer respite, as well as time and space that encourages social interaction between parents and families of disabled children, where they can share experiences and learn from each other. Our families have told us they really value their experiences at The Yard. Here are just three examples …

‘My son who is 10 and has Aspergers Syndrome was in The Yard for 15 mins said out loud ‘Finally; a place where I can be myself’.”

My son’s communication has improved, as has his social skills. There also lots of support and opportunities to improve his motor skills.”

I have benefited very much in a social capacity, spending time with [my child] in a safe and secure environment means I can relax knowing that she’s happy. I learn so much from other parents! [My child] is a confident/sociable girl and her joy at coming to The Yard has only increased that in her character.”


Playworks- Broxburn, West Lothian

The Trustees agreed that Playworks event should be commended as a unique, inspirational event in terms of Positive Support for Play, however more could be done in terms of measuring its impact. This could be possible for participants to comment on what they have learned and changed from their attendance at previous year’s events. The Trustees are convinced that this event will grow and should receive a Commendation for 2016.

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