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SOS: Save Our Swings!

Vandalism has the potential to destroy entire communities. This terrible power exists because acts of destruction, no matter how minor, can affect us deeply in many different ways.

Firstly, they negatively impact on our quality of life by damaging or destroying those things we need and care about. Violent acts may also make us feel less safe than we really are.

Vandalism has financial implications too. Paying for repairs – especially for recurring damage – can be a costly business.

Sadly, we know this from firsthand experience. Although the vast majority of our play areas across the UK are enjoyed every single day by youngsters and families, a tiny minority have been the victim of multiple attacks.

Repeated vandalism of play equipment, fencing and gates – as well as related anti-social behaviour such as fly tipping, littering and dog fouling – may ultimately rob children of enjoying vital open spaces altogether.

Our SOS campaign

Rest assured, however, we are determined to do everything in our power to stop this happening and with our SOS campaign we intend to ensure play areas remain a vital part of children’s physical, mental, emotional and social development.

Play parks offer a safe and fun place to forge friendships that can last a lifetime but it’s not only children who benefit from these communal facilities. For parents and carers it is great to have a place to come together with neighbours in an informal way.

Enjoying conversation during the day and getting to know neighbours can contribute to a feeling of wellbeing.

This is why throughout 2020 we will continue to carry out regular inspections and ensure play equipment is in the best condition.

We will work closely with play area expert Doug Wallace and his team at Active Risk Management to review all of our play areas across the UK and undertake refurbishment works based on the age of the development and the specific needs of the equipment.

But with your help, and the focus of SOS: Save Our Swings, we can do even more . . .

Reporting crimes

Vandalism is a crime. If you see anyone committing acts of vandalism, please report this immediately to the police and local council authorities.

The police can only respond to reported crimes. Prompt reporting of the act can result in the vandals’ arrest. It also allows the police to increase their presence in your area in order to protect you and your neighbours and prevent your play area from being hit again.

You can also personally ask for police to increase their patrol presence in the local community.

If you think what you’ve witnessed could be dangerous to life – such as someone deliberately setting fires – or you feel personally threatened, do not hesitate to call 999.

By working together, the human and financial costs associated with anti-social behaviour are massively reduced, meaning there’s more to spend on further enhancing community spaces.

Residents’ Associations

There is also strength in numbers and forming bonds with those around us can help us plan for a safe future. This is where residents’ associations – local groups formed to represent the best interests of the community – can help.

From liaising with Greenbelt to organising  community and charity events, residents’ associations offer important social benefits. This is why we work closely with residents’ associations to focus on the issues you are passionate about – and, of course, this includes preventing vandalism.

If you’re interested in joining a residents’ association, the first step is to search online to see if one exists already in your area. They can vary in size and scope, based on your community, but should be straightforward to join.

If there is no residents’ association, we have a helpful guide for setting up your own.

In 2020 Greenbelt is on a mission to protect play areas throughout the UK. Why not join us by emailing your suggestions and feedback to customercare@greenbelt.co.uk?

You can keep up to date with our campaign – SOS: Save Our Swings – through regular news posts in The Green Room.