Positive About Play helping children through pandemic

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Memory wall at MPAC

The Positive About Play scheme has provided much needed support for children and families across Merseyside during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 30,000 food hampers, grab-and-go lunches, breakfasts and goody bags have been given to more than 2,300 children over the summer.

The Positive About Play initiative was introduced in 2012 in response to a lack of  government funding to provide play schemes and food to children across Merseyside.

The scheme is led by Merseyside Play Action Council (MPAC) and Liverpool Council Voluntary Services (LCVS) and supported by The John Moores foundation, The Morgan Foundation and the Youth and Play Service, among others.

MPAC manager Kevin McIntyre recognises the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on families and the organisation that has operated since 1974 in the city’s arts centres, churches and youth clubs.

He said: “Since the lockdown we have changed our way of working slightly, so we’ve tried to provide those resources every two weeks. From our point of view those children have always been there, this is nothing new, this is just a whole different scale if you like.”

MPAC Manager Kevin McIntyre and dog Peanut / Credit: Lauren Hughes

The summer play schemes 2020 report saw lower attendance than usual with many restrictions out in place and vulnerable children shielding.

Fifty three play schemes went ahead distributing over £74,000 of funding that included online deliveries, indoor and outdoor activities.

MPAC provided 260 activity packs with skipping ropes, footballs, hula hoops and other equipment to play schemes who then circulated the packs to families and ‘bubbles’ of children and young people.

“We’ve always had a creative side, giving the kids something on a different level and that’s difficult at the moment,” said McIntyre.

“Our thinking now is how do we continue what we are doing to make sure that kids are still managing to get fed while giving them this kind of creative activity.”

Next for MPAC is ‘ICE CATS’ (In case of emergency, children, adults, teacher safety), a Halloween project that teaches children about safeguarding and child protection while also helping them understand how track and trace works.

As the future remains uncertain and lockdown rules are often changing, knowing there is support at this difficult time is a welcome comfort for many children and their families.

 

About Lauren Hughes, JMU Journalism