The play park at King George V Playing Field’s, off Topsham Road, features at number 6 in the ’30 most impressive accessible and inclusive playgrounds’ – a piece of research published by the Keiser University Graduate School in Florida.
The KGV play park allows disabled children to access play facilities not on offer in most play parks. Implemented by Exeter Mencap, the play park is a prime example of a successful working partnership between Exeter City Council (ECC) and a local charity.
Miriam Guard, of Exeter Mencap, said: “This is fabulous news – No 6 isn’t a bad place to be! I regard the play park as an excellent example of co-operative team work between the City Council and us, a small local charity, which has created a unique community resource which has now been globally recognised.
In 2007, the City Council supported an application to the Big Lottery Fund by Exeter Mencap, to create a new “Inclusive Play Area” at (KGV) in Countess Wear and granted a 10-year lease to the charity for this purpose. This play park would clearly contribute to the social cohesion and wellbeing of the community.
When the play park was built, the City Council - managing over 60 play areas at the time - agreed that it would be both sensible and efficient for the maintenance and day-to-day management to be carried out by its parks department. Consequently, the City Council carry out all the inspections, repairs and refurbishments in co-operation with Exeter Mencap on behalf of all the users of the play area.
“I am very grateful to the members of Exeter City Council’s Parks Department for their invaluable help and support with the maintenance and day to day running of the play park,” added Miriam.
The play park at KGV has its own website www.theplaypark.co.uk/ and since 2008, when it opened, receives over 300 visits to the website each month – over 80% of these being new visits. Exeter Mencap receives frequent contact from: • local authorities from around the world • students who feature the play park in their academic dissertations • small community charities and groups who come and visit it.
Cllr Keith Owen, Lead Councillor for Environment, Health and Wellbeing, said: “This is a wonderful story and well-deserved recognition for such a fantastic facility. We’re all proud of what Mencap has achieved at King George V and continue to work with them to offer this facility to the people of Exeter and further afield.”