New inclusive playground a Barnet first

The Victoria Recreation Ground playground is designed to bring together Disabled and non-disabled people of all ages

Two children point to symbols on a large outdoor board
Two children using the communications board at Fair Play. Photo: Chanelle Joseph

A new inclusive playground, founded by two mothers has launched at Victoria Recreation Ground in Barnet to foster play between children and adults of all abilities. 

After reflecting on their children’s personal experiences of playing in poorly equipped playgrounds and being segregated from friends, Deborah Gundle and Nathalie Esfandi set out to build their own inclusive playground, Fair Play, in collaboration with Barnet Council. 

The half a million pound playground, launched on 13th February 2024, has been paid for through independent funding and donations, including £100,000 from Barnet Council. In addition, the Council launched a public consultation to ensure it meets the needs of local residents. 

The Fair Play playground addresses the challenges faced by the disability community and empowers disabled and non-disabled people of all ages to play together without exclusion or bias. Local residents with disabilities, parents, carers and accessibility experts have been involved in shaping the project from the outset, putting the disability community at the heart of its design.

Solid safety surfacing across the whole play area ensures it is wheelchair accessible, and the picnic area allows wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users to sit together. There are also communication boards for non-verbal people to use, along with a textured path surface to support visually impaired users to navigate and only one entrance and exit to ensure users won’t leave without their carer’s knowledge.

Deborah Gundle, co-founder of Fair Play, said: “As a mother with a disabled son, I know how difficult it is for families like ours to be able to play together. A lot of hard work has gone into this project, and seeing the equipment being used by disabled and non-disabled children side-by-side is incredibly rewarding. I’d love for every playground to allow people of all ages and abilities to play in this way and we hope Fair Play will act as the blueprint for new playgrounds up and down the country. 

“Inclusive play will reduce stigma through positive experiences in a society where social integration and physical fitness are important to all of us.”

Nathalie Esfandi, co-founder of Fair Play, said: “Playgrounds should be wholly accessible and inclusive, allowing those with learning and physical disabilities to play alongside their siblings and friends. Local governments across the country should take note of this, providing community spaces that serve all ages and abilities.”

Both worked with manufacturer Kompan to include accessible equipment which spins, rocks, and swings, along with sensory panels for touch, movement and sound – all selected with the disability community in mind. 

Cllr Nagus Narenthira, the Worshipful Mayor of Barnet, said: “I am honoured to be able to open the Fair Play inclusive playground. It’s wonderful to see so many people of all ages and abilities being able to play together. We are fortunate in Barnet to have had such a wonderful team of fundraisers to help achieve this and I hope this is a model that we can see more of in future.”

Fair Play Barnet is located at:

Victoria Recreation Ground

Park Road

East Barnet


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