Hi – I’m Melanie, the Play Association’s Operations Manager. I started with the Play Association in April 2007. I was working at an after school club and was looking for work that was flexible and would fit in around my work hours. I started as a playworker in the staff pool and stepped up into a Deputy position in Nov 2011 to support Pam in her new role as senior, as she was still new to the organisation. During this time I was also appointed the role of Play Development Worker, supporting the Operations Manager Rachel with staffing and organising for the Lillis Project every Wednesday. When Rachel left us in 2013, I covered a lot of her role and ended up taking on her title as Operations Manager.
I am currently responsible for SEN support within our organisation. I manage and support the Lillis Project as a whole as well as associated bespoke services, inclusion on all our projects, and providing support to other organisations with staffing for their SEN clients. My role mostly consists of staffing, recruitment & HR for the Lillis project and organising the bespoke work we do, managing bookings and allocations, and attending meetings regarding the young people, planning, checking and keeping on top the staff’s training, DBS checks etc. I’ve also taken on tasks such as payroll for the whole organisation, event planning, fundraising and the oversight of our website renovation. I step in on the projects when required.
I see the Play Association having a very bright future, as every year the standard and the level of our work increases and improves. We are helping more children and families than ever and that’s thanks to everyone’s hard work and persistence. I would like to see us become the best in our field and support children and families all over London, and beyond! We work with disabled and very disadvantaged children, supporting them and their families to access good quality play experiences and helping them overcome barriers to play. We believe all children have the right to play and we promote equality and diversity. We have created bespoke services for young people and families whom play-scheme is not appropriate for and support young people in the community. We are a unique organisation, offering experiences and provisions that are flexible and providing something for everyone, no matter where it is or what resources are available. We work with some very challenging children that have been turned away from other inclusive settings – we have never turned a young person away for any reason and will always work to seek the best solution, provision and support possible. Any support we get is greatly appreciated – even the smallest gesture can go a long way and being a charity, our work only continues with support and funding, so requires lots of input from ourselves as well as external sources.
Each of our projects support a need that we have identified within the borough, whether it be adventure play, after school or holiday childcare, pop up play services travelling to different estates that have no play opportunities, or families with disabled children who need some support and respite in non-judgmental settings. Every piece of work we do has a purpose – to improve, support, encourage and promote play for everyone. Play is an integral part of childhood and is our first form of learning and exploration. Play is how we develop character, imagination, resilience, confidence, self-esteem, social skills, physical skills, emotions, behaviour and creativity. Play can help to manage stress, create friendships and encourage working together – all skills that are important throughout life. Young people need a safe and friendly environment to flourish and try new experiences, as well as motivational and encouraging adults to support them and we aim to maintain these services so that generations to come can have the same opportunities.