LIVERPOOL is bidding to join the Unicef Child Friendly City programme – putting young people at the heart of everything it does.
The city council is to submit an application to the child rights organisation to work towards the status, to cement and further Liverpool’s work to ensure that children’s rights are reflected in the policies, programmes and budgets of it and partner organisations.
Child Friendly City is based around eleven ‘rights’ including influencing decisions, participating in cultural events, being protected from exploitation and enjoying green space and nine components including developing a city-wide children’s rights strategy and supporting independent advocacy for children.
The city wants to improve the way providers of services in the city work for and with children, so that they have a say in decisions that affect them, experience services that are designed with and for them, know what services are available to them and feel safe and prioritised.
Consultation is already underway with a wide range of young people across the city – and they recently they met with council leaders including Director of Children’s Services, Steve Reddy, Deputy Mayor, Cllr Wendy Simon and Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Barry Kushner to give their views.
The group includes members of YPAS (Young People’s Advisory Service), the Children in Care Council, Liverpool Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) Young Advisors, Merseyside Youth Association, Barnardo’s Young Carers, Liverpool Schools Parliament and Liverpool Arabic Centre.
Mayor Joe Anderson said: “Our children are the future of our city and our success is dependent on them being given the best possible opportunities and gaining the skills and confidence to achieve their potential.
“We’re not starting from scratch here as there is already a huge amount of work going on to enable children’s voices to be heard.
“We have protected children’s services as much as possible from the impact of austerity, such as by keeping all of our Children’s Centres open and making care leavers exempt from Council Tax and spending £11 million on supporting families in crisis with emergency payments.
“But we need to do more to embed this approach across the whole city, and the ask to our partner organisations will be for them to work with us and commit to spending more on services for children and ask employers to commit to pay parents a minimum living wage.”
The University of Liverpool has already committed to work as a research partner on Child Friendly City, to help drive evidence based policy changes and also support meaningful engagement and participation with young people.
An online survey has been launched to gather views from young people about what they would like to see from a Child Friendly City – it can be found at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/childfriendlyliverpool
Councillor Barry Kushner, Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We are ambitious about being a Child Friendly City and want to make a real difference to the young people of Liverpool.
“Partnering with Unicef will galvanise the work that we are doing and have planned, helping define and prioritise our work.
“We are listening to our young people and their families, building on our existing work to understand what a Child Friendly City would mean to them.”
Jess Garside, a young advisor for the LSCB, said: “Child Friendly City status would mean a lot to us in Liverpool. It’s really important that children and young people are able to express their opinions and views.
“They are the future generation and they are the ones who are going to make the changes. No matter the ethnic origin, religion, sexuality or disability everyone must be treated equally.”
Megan Sullivan from the Children in Care Council said: “I feel we have an effective Children’s Rights and Participation plan for children in care and it should be rolled out to all kids in the city. A child friendly city should be were children feel safe, heard, nurtured and are able to flourish.”