Shadwell's adventure playground reopens to help lockdown recovery

Swinging time as Glamis adventure playground reopens

Swinging time as Glamis Adventure Playground reopens - Credit: Shadwell Community Project

A children’s adventure playground which aims to help ease youngsters' mental stress after Covid has reopened in Shadwell.

Volunteers were battling to keep the Glamis Adventure Playground open during lockdown, but the Shadwell Community Project needed £5,000 to make the play equipment Covid-safe.

It ran a crowdfunding campaign which led to the playground finally reopening on Saturday, July 3, when the Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs cut the ribbon.

Mayor John Biggs cuts through the red tape, or yellow in this case, to get the playground up and running

Mayor John Biggs cuts through the red tape, or yellow in this case, to get the playground up and running - Credit: Shadwell Community Project

The reopening was part of a neighbourhood family wellness day encouraging play as a 'vaccine' for mental health. 

“This is so much more than just a playground," Shadwell Community Project’s Candace Lewis said. “We have gardening, yoga and other activities as a much-needed space away from the current trend towards the ‘schoolifcation’ of play.   

“Experts have called for a summer of play following the impact of the pandemic on children — but we think it’s more than that. It's a lifetime of play for all the family.”  

An unprecedented rise in children’s mental health problems has been identified by Play First UK during the pandemic.

Playing helps to ease everyday pressures with “no motivation other than enjoyment", the project organisers say. 

Going up in the world of play... youngsters at reopened Glamis adventure playground 

Going up in the world of play... youngsters at reopened Glamis Adventure Playground - Credit: Shadwell Community Project

The reopening event in Shadwell included a yoga workshop and massage — but most of all, there was the serious business of climbing.  

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The community project’s chairman Jonathan Moules said: “We’ve been giving out play packs and running family play sessions for children during lockdown where coming to the playground was often their only opportunity to spend time outside the home.”  

More than half the children of the East End are living in urban poverty and have no open space to play, with Tower Hamlets having the highest child poverty rate in London, according to Trust for London.

The percentage born into poverty "are more likely to have health problems and stress" that can affect mental wellbeing, it said.

The Glamis Adventure Playground was once the site of the East London Hospital for Children, which was pulled down in 1963 and left as wasteland.

It was then turned into one of London's first adventure playgrounds in 1969.

The hospital originally opened in a converted warehouse at nearby Ratcliff Cross in 1868, following the infamous cholera outbreak in the East End. It moved to Glamis Road in 1875, helped by Charles Dickens raising funds to set it up. 

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