Children’s Fund

Althea Efunshile explains how the government is looking to join
up policy-making for young people and ensure their voices are

The Prime Minister set up the children and young people’s unit
in November 2000, as an innovative attempt to cut across
departmental responsibilities within Whitehall, and put the voices
and interests of children and young people centre stage in public

The unit supports the minister for children and young people,
John Denham (who is also a minister of state in the Home Office),
as well as a cabinet committee on children and young people’s
services chaired by the chancellor Gordon Brown. The unit is based
within the Department for Education and Skills. Its brief is to
deliver better outcomes in the lives of children and young people
between the ages of 0 and 19 years old as part of the government’s
commitment to end child poverty and social exclusion, as well as to
put the interests of children and young people at the heart of
government. The aim is to help link up existing policy-making, as
well as developing newer ways of working.

The first major aim of the unit is to develop an over-arching
strategy for children and young people. The strategy proposes a
collective vision, not just in terms of conventional indicators,
but of what childhood should actually be. It sets up principles
underpinning all services for young people.

We have set up our own children and young people’s advisory
forum, to work with us on strategy and effectively involve young
people. Twenty-six young people aged between 11 and 18 have been
recruited to advise the minister, and cast a constructive eye over
government plans.

We also manage the £380m children’s fund and £70m
local network fund, funding schemes to combat poverty and social
exclusion within communities. Across the UK, partnership projects
are tackling exclusion and helping families in deprived areas.

Althea Efunshile is director of the government’s
children and young people’s unit.

-Log on to

people in Cornwall expect action after
Denham visit

A Manifesto for the Youth of Cornwall written by 250 young
people was launched on 29 April at the Eden Project in Cornwall.
John Denham, minister for young people, attended the launch and met
local councillors, police leaders and health officials, all of whom
are working with the young people of Cornwall to address the issues
raised in the manifesto. Katie Boxall, a member of the Youth Forum,
said: “This is the first step in young people expressing themselves
and having the opportunity to contribute to the community here in
Cornwall. We are looking forward to working with our community
leaders to ensure that our agenda will be taken forward.”

Strategists hear the voice of

A consultation exercise was held from November 2001 to March
2002, asking children, young people and adults what they felt the
government’s new strategy for children and young people should
contain. The results of this consultation are on the website at
Consultation booklets were designed specifically for children and
young people, as well as a postcard competition to tell the Prime
Minister the one thing that children and young people needed. These
were distributed through cinemas, in conjunction with the Harry
Potter film, and schools. The winner, Kirsty Williams, 14, of
Grange School, Aylesbury was presented with her Radio 1 prize pack
on 3 May. Kirsty said that young people needed more leisure

Youth action plans

Eleven government departments are developing action plans on how
to involve young people in their work. These will be published at
the end of May on the CYPU website at The departments
involved are: Cabinet Office, Department for Education and Skills,
Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for the
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Health,
Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Transport, London
and the Regions, Home Office, Lord Chancellor’s Department, HM
Treasury, and the Ministry of Defence.

Democracy needs attention

The CYPU is leading a project to engage young people in the
democratic process, on behalf of young people’s minister John
Denham. On 22 April, a workshop was held at the Curzon Cinema,
Soho, where a group of 60 young people presented the minister,
other politicians, and representatives of the media, with films and
a campaigning document they propose to launch later in the summer.
These will be used to educate politicians and journalists about how
young people could be involved more in the UK’s political

UN General Assembly special session

Members of the CYPU attended the special session in New York
from 8-10 May. The UK delegation was led by John Denham and Hilary
Benn, minister for international development. Two youth delegates,
Claire Bradley and Ellen Leaver, both 18, represented young people
in the UK. John Denham said: “Tackling childhood disadvantage is
particularly important because childhood experience lays the
foundations for later life. Action to abolish child poverty will
improve the quality of children’s lives today, and enable them to
reach their full potential tomorrow as adults, breaking the cycle
of poverty and disadvantage.” The special session was unique in
that for the first time ever the general assembly was addressed by
children following the Children’s Forum from 5-7 May.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.