National CPFA Support Committee (County Playing Fields Associations' Network)

National CPFA Support Committee (County Playing Fields Associations' Network)

At a glance

Causes

  • Campaigning
  • Gardens and parks
  • Local / community
  • Sports
  • Voluntary sector support

Other details

Geographical remit: 
National - England

Objectives

The National County Playing Fields Association (CPFA) Support Committee’s (NCSC) overall aim is to empower and resource the national network of 30+ CPFAs to make a unique and effective contribution to achieving national policy objectives for improved health and wellbeing for people of all ages through sport, play and physical activity.

The NCSC is made up of volunteers from CPFAs all around the country and works to support individual CPFAs with information and opportunities to meet and share ideas and experiences.   The NCSC also seeks to represent CPFAs at national level and draw the attention of key organisations and policymakers to the value of what CPFAs do in support of local outdoor playing space provision.

The general aim of County Playing Fields Associations is to enable the community-based provision of good quality and accessible playing fields, playgrounds and other suitable outdoor spaces and facilities, in order to facilitate opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, especially children and young people, to participate in outdoor sport, play and physical activity.   CPFAs’ key objectives are to protect and enhance existing outdoor open spaces and support the provision of new facilities.

Each CPFA is an independent registered charity with links to communities and a range of partner organisations throughout its area of operation.

The major part of CPFAs' day-to-day work is devoted to assisting local community organisations, through information and advice, training and access to financial help, to provide, preserve, improve and adequately maintain local outdoor recreational and children’s play facilities.  They stress especially the importance of providing for children and young people, including teenagers.

CPFAs are the only organisations in the country dedicated specifically to providing a comprehensive independent playing field and children’s play space advice service for local community groups, including Parish Councils, Voluntary Playing Field Management Committees and Community Playground Committees, and Voluntary Sports Clubs.

It must be remembered that in rural areas most of the community outdoor and indoor recreation spaces in the villages and market towns are provided and managed by the Parish or Town Council or a Playing Field charity.  All but the larger Councils rely on their members or other residents as volunteers to carry out the work required. These volunteers are faced with the need to comply with health and safety legislation and to keep up with modern expectations and standards of provision for all ages.   While larger statutory authorities are able to employ professional Officers to advise them and be responsible for day-to-day management, at parish level this is usually not possible.

The practical help CPFAs can provide for local groups includes:

  • Site visits to give on the spot advice
  • Newsletters and information sheets or targeted information on processes or sources of help 
  • Provision of small grants and loans and/or advice on how to access sources of funding
  • Expert and up-to-date guidance on safety standards for children’s play areas
  • Seminars and meetings to provide information, training and a chance to meet other playing field managers.
  • Identifying playing field needs and helping to protect those under threat.

Most of these services are available free of charge.

The direct beneficiaries of these services are the local organisations that are working to provide, improve and maintain local outdoor recreational facilities focusing mainly on the non-metropolitan areas: i.e. parish and town councils, playing field and play area committees, sports clubs, etc.

Ultimately, CPFAs’ work will benefit the people in localities, especially children and young people, who will enjoy the improved neighbourhood playing space that their services will help local organisations to provide.

It is now well-recognised nationally that a vital part of the campaign to increase people’s level of physical activity is to ensure that there are good quality, suitable and attractive indoor and outdoor playing spaces available within as many local neighbourhoods as possible.   If it is not easy to access spaces because they are not designed or provided in an accessible way or are not geographically accessible, this will discourage wider participation by people who are not already engaged enthusiasts willing to make sacrifices in order to be more active.

There are 25 County Playing Fields Associations currently operating. In addition there are a few Counties that do not have a PFA but where the County Rural Community Council (RCC) or other organisation is attempting to provide some level of similar service. 

The NCSC includes a representative of Fields In Trust (FIT) with whom it works in close liaison.   FIT shares with CPFAs a number of common interests and objectives but its Royal Charter does not include any remit to act as a ‘parent’ organisation for the movement. 

Activities

Currently the NCSC works to support CPFAs locally in the following ways:

  • Circulates information of national policy developments relevant to the movement
  • Helps CPFAs to share information and advice by email
  • Organises a national conference and networking event for CPFAs and interested partners
  • Edits a dedicated national information website: The Playing Field (www.theplayingfield.org.uk)
  • Represents CPFAs nationally including submissions to policy and strategy consultations
  • Liaises closely with key national partner organisations such as Fields In Trust and the Sports and Play Construction Association (SAPCA)

 

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