Play Association Hammersmith and Fulham (PAHF) is managed by a board of company directors known as the Board of Trustees. The directors also serve as trustees since the organisation has been incorporated as both a business and charity starting from 2005, originally created by childcare and play professionals in 2003 and was then funded from grants by the Hammersmith and Fulham Early years and childcare Development Partnership.
Here is what they have to say about why they want to represent the Play Association:
Lesley Schwartz - Divisional Manager for SEN, Bespoke Projects
I have worked in the third sector for the past 28 years and I have seen some changes not in my opinion the for best! I was part of a forum in 2005 of providers in Hammersmith & Fulham and from this forum, Play Association Hammersmith & Fulham was born.
13 years later, I’m still here and just as committed to the charity as I was from the beginning. I have acquired a Level 5 in Management, NVQ Level 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development and Level 3 SENCO, Designated Safeguarding officer etc. I believe every child, no matter their race, gender, age, abilities and needs, has the right to play in a safe and secure environment, allowing them to reach their full potential.
Melanie Schwartz - Operations Manager
I started working for PAHF in 2008 as a sessional playworker and became a deputy playworker in 2012. I have worked with children since leaving school in 2005 and went to college to study for this. I hold NVQ and Certificate in Children's Care, Learning and Development at levels 2 and 3 and have 11.5 years’ experience in childcare. I'm a first aider as well as safeguarding trained. Working with children with disabilities has improved and adapted my practice with all children and I am continually learning from them.
In 2011 I volunteered my time to help with office work and came in weekly to help with the project's paper work and staffing. When my predecessor Rachel left us in 2013 I took on part of her job. Over the last 3 years I have developed and expanded on my role within the organisation and in Sept 2016 was named Operations Manager, with a speciality in SEN and disability due to my experience.
Rob Carroll - Hammersmith & Fulham Development Officer
I have worked across Westminster Play Services since 1993, initially as a Playcentre Leader and then progressing to the position of Senior Project Coordinator, where he was responsible for staff training and development.
I previously supported the charity as a trustee and is currently working to develop Pop up Play provision within housing estates, parks and other community spaces.
These mobile play sessions enable children and young people to develop positive relationships within their neighbourhoods and encourages parents and families to join in too.
Colin Simmons - Divisional Manager for Mainstream Projects
I have worked in play starting as a volunteer play worker and then employed by the ILEA (Inner London Education authority) since 1973, I was appointed as a senior play worker at the age of 22 at middle row play centre in north Kensington, this gave me much experience in working with children with in a very diverse communities, I then moved across to The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on abolition of the ILEA in 1990 and was appointed as the play service manager, through my time I undertook many projects including establishing children residential to Parkwood Hall Swanley Kent for 20 years, developing the children’s play programme across the borough and opening new play centres when funding was available.
I helped to develop the children’s play inclusion programme, given children with additional needs opportunities to attend main stream play provision. I also establish the young people’s helping hand volunteering programme. I also led on the play pathfinder programme with 2.5 million pounds of funding from central government, to rebuild and redevelop 32 play spaces, and project manage the development of the Little Wormwood Scrubs Adventure Playground. I was very proud of the service we provided in Kensington and Chelsea giving many children and families opportunities that they would not have experience without. Annually we provided a number of special events including: Supporting Nursery Carnival, Play Day, Festival of Sport and Dance Attack. In September 2016 the service was finally outsourced and I am pleased to have now joined the Play Association to continue delivering play opportunities to children as I believe children’s play is so important.
Kerry Clifford - White City play project Manager
Kerry has been with the Play Association more than two years now, having joined as the Manager of White City play project when we first took over delivery of the project in June 2017.
With his passion for play, fourteen years of experience working with children and young people, qualifications in play work, and knowledge of West London, Kerry is very much a key member of our delivery team.
Having started out in the play sector as a play-trainee, aged sixteen, with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where he grew up, Kerry also has a strong understanding of how important it is for London’s children to have positive opportunities through play. We’re very happy to have him on our team!
We have a very diverse and skilled staff team. A lot of our playworkers work in schools, nurseries and colleges as teachers or teaching assistants and the rest work for care agencies, after school clubs and youth clubs. We have had many young people volunteer with us, that have become staff members and gone on to work full time in care, play and/or education. Our playworkers come from all over London and some live in neighbouring counties. Their breadth of experience and knowledge benefits not only the children, but the organisation as a whole.