Only 21 percent of children play outdoors near their homes on a daily basis, a children's charity claims.

Play England, part of the National Children's Bureau, is calling for more support from local communities to ensure that children are not kept inside.

Polls carried out by ICM Research and One Poll on behalf of the organisation revealed the shocking number of youngsters who spend little time outside, while 59 per cent of children said that they wished they could spend more time outdoors.

One third of the 2,000 children polled said they have never built a den, slightly more said they have never climbed a tree, while one in 10 said they have never ridden a bike.

"Playing outside, chalking on the pavement, climbing trees and riding your bike are simple pleasures that many of today's children are missing out on," said Catherine Pisk, director of Play England.

"Play is essential for children's health and happiness now and is also essential for making friends, building key skills for the future and for feeling you are part of a community."

The charity's campaign has been bolstered by £2 million from the Big Society Fund. It will be used by the Play England Free Time Consortium, a group of 17 specialist organisations aiming to increase neighbourhoods' access to outside space.

Projects include street parties and holiday play schemes, while more than 20,000 new volunteer opportunities will be offered to help their communities and improve play spaces.

Civil society minister Nick Hurd said the money would help the charity increase community involvement.

"We all know the importance of play to children. Over the past 10 years a culture of red tape has stifled the freedom of children to climb trees, make dens and enjoy the simple pleasures of outdoor play."