Paul Hocker

Paul Hocker


Play Development Team Manager, London Play


Initially Haringey but with plans to expand the project into Hackney, Camden and Islington.

"Through my work I want to make our great city a great place for children to play and grow-up in. I want to see a city that makes room for children's play, and recognises that the sight of children playing outside their home is a key indicator of community wellbeing."

The Project
The Pop-Up Play Shops project is a partnership project between London Play and Haringey Play Association and its development is currently funded by Play England through the Social Action Fund. Located on a retail high street, children can enter the shop and engage in play activities with a nature theme free of charge. Shops will be staffed by qualified playworkers and local volunteers and will offer space for parents to have a coffee and pick up play ideas to take home.

With access to nature in some of London’s inner boroughs so scarce and with the effect of cuts leading to the disappearance of adventure playgrounds and other key play services across London, the Pop-Up Play Shop is a timely intervention that can make a real difference to children, their families and the wider community.

What does being a London Leader mean to you?
London is my hometown, a fact I will always be proud of. Having the opportunity to become a London Leader and receive support and mentoring from the heart of City Hall in order to make a positive difference for Londoners is a genuine privilege and one I won’t waste a moment of.

What’s your past experience?
Like many people working in the play sector, my journey into this work was not straight-forward. Along the way I have worked in the theatre, children’s television, social services, the stand-up comedy circuit and, very briefly, as a songwriter for the Slovakian X-factor. Somehow this unshapely resume set me up well for a career in playwork, which began on playschemes in Tottenham and now, 20 years on, finds me developing exciting play opportunities across the capital for the children’s charity London Play, in partnership with our colleagues in the borough Play Associations and more widely with the capital’s ever-resilient play sector.

I am part of a team that punches well above its weight. We are committed to selling the idea of play and its benefits for healthy childhoods to those who need reminding. We aspire to make London childhoods the best in the world by influencing decision makers, supporting the work of others in the field, sharing good practice and new ideas, and repeating the arguments that keep play on the agenda.