Young people to be consulted on national decisions

Young people will be involved in decision-making and developing
policy at a national level, according to a government policy
adviser, writes Clare Jerrom.

Barbara Hearn from the children and young people’s unit
said the government was committed to meeting article 12 of the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states
that all young people are capable of forming a view have the right
to express it in all matters concerning them.

She made her comments at a ‘Fair Shares for Children:
accessing the Children’s Fund’ conference in London
organised by children’s charities Save the Children, National
Children’s Bureau and the Children’s Society.

Professor Gary Craig from the University of Hull raised concerns
about how the Children’s Fund would be implemented. He voiced
doubts about whether there were mechanisms in place to learn from
the enormous experience already available, and whether learning
would be transferred from one area to another.

Craig called for policy making to become more “child-friendly”,
and said it was imperative that children were introduced at the
early stages, and not bought in as an after thought.

If necessary, changes should be made to working methods to
encourage youth participation, he urged.

The conference saw the launch of ‘Bread is free: children
and young people talk about poverty’, a report by Save The
Children and Children’s Rights Alliance for England.

The government’s pledge to end child poverty in 20 years
was met with scepticism by the young people interviewed for the

One young person said: “First of all I wouldn’t say
I’ll abolish it in 20 years because that in itself, like
trying to fully abolish bullying in school or crime, is going to be
something that is going to take a lot more than 20 years…I
think the only way to abolish poverty is to abolish our way of
life, whereas the whole world doesn’t revolve around

The main message of the consultation was that children want to
contribute to finding solutions to child poverty, both at a local
and national level.

Ideas to avoid stigma included the introduction of swipe cards
in schools for meals, topped up by parents, or local authorities
for those eligible for free school lunches.

Other ideas in the report to target poverty included
redistribution of wealth, a reduction in the cost of housing and
bills, and the engagement of banks and building societies.

‘Bread is free: children and young people talk about poverty’ is
available from 020 7278 8222.











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