The Origins of Islington Play Association

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By Jordan James

Islington Play Association was created in the early 1970s, when a rumour spread through Islington’s Playgrounds that an “outsider” was going to set up a play association. A group of Islington locals got together and decided to create an Association of their own.

“…But meanwhile we had pre-empted him, we’d had a meeting we decided we’d set up a Play Association already. So I remember when he said I think we should have a Play Association one of us put our hand out and said actually we’ve already set one up. That took the wind out of his sails; we didn’t want to be set up by somebody else.”

Margaret Pitt talking about the decision to set up Islington Play Association

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In the summer of 1973 Islington Council went on strike. This gave IPA the chance to organise the play schemes themselves, working with local community groups and hiring summer staff. Play workers at that time were paid very badly and were often students interested in working in the inner city. Many didn’t have anywhere to live so the IPA had to provide accommodation.

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 “We needed somewhere for them to stay…. So I went down to the GLC Northern District Office down at Kings Cross and I said to the manager ‘I’m desperate I absolutely need a house to put up about twenty people’ so he said, ‘Let me see what I can do for you’. So he gave us this house in Stanmore Street, it’s now been demolished and it had cold water and electricity, it had an outside loo and we just put lots of mattresses from the PDSA which is Peoples Dispense of Sick Animals which was just beside Martin Luther King Playground in those days. Then we plonked them down there with some bedding and we left them to it, and I dunno it was a bit shocking really but some of them ended up working in play permanently so it can’t have been a totally ghastly experience.”

Margaret Pitt – talking about recruiting new playworkers.

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 From such beginnings the Islington Play Association has grown and developed. It now manages six of Islington’s twelve adventure playgrounds.

To find out more about Adventure Playgrounds in Islington please visit the IPA website or look on Islington Council’s website

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