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nine - ‘Lottery millions’ • The Children’s Play Initiative

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2022

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Summary

CPC’s role in first suggesting, then helping to design and deliver the Better Play Programme, had far-reaching consequences. Not least of these was the proximity it gave us to the senior team of a new, supersized funding body at a time when there was much to play for – and much to lose.

Unusually for the head of a large funder, New Opportunities Fund’s (NOF) Chief Executive Stephen Dunmore had taken a personal interest and involved himself directly in some of Better Play’s activities, particularly towards its latter stages. CPC’s partnership with Barnardo’s, one the country’s oldest, largest and most respected children’s charities, may well have helped to engender such a commitment – or perhaps it was simply that there is a ‘feel-good factor’ to good play projects that even CEOs find irresistible. Whatever the reason, Stephen Dunmore was a surprisingly frequent speaker at Better Play events and an engaging and interested contributor to the round of workshops that CPC and Barnardo’s staged to finalise the programme and help to inform its conclusions. Prominent among these was the challenge of sustaining new projects within a wider policy and funding climate still largely disinterested in children’s play.

In October 2004, there was still a good deal of uncertainty about the fate of the Play Review’s recommendations and the prospects for a Lottery programme for play. Many in the sector wanted us to challenge what was being seen as a broken promise to children and continue to put pressure on the government to honour its election pledge. Having met with Tessa Jowell, we knew that her response to Frank Dobson, which had been a long time coming and was made in full consideration of the imminent changes to the laws governing Lottery funding, was final.

Crucially, Frank Dobson was no longer a minister. His report was in the way of recommendations to the government and to the funder, NOF. It was not government policy and could not, therefore, be construed as ministerial directions. We knew that the best chance for a national funding programme for play now lay in persuading not the government, but the newly created Lottery distributor, that this would be a popular, successful and worthwhile use of £200 million.

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Policy for Play
Responding to Children's Forgotten Right
, pp. 91 - 98
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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