Barnet has become the first local authority in London to partner with global children’s charity Unicef UK.
On 20 November, to coincide with the World Children’s Day, Unicef UK will launch their newest programme, Child Friendly Cities & Communities, which will see Barnet collaborate with the organisation to embed children’s rights into the council’s governance, policy and practice.
Barnet is one of just five local authorities in the UK to be selected as a partner after applying to Unicef UK.
The partnership will culminate in the council being recognised as a Child Friendly Community and support all children to grow up healthy, happy, safe and resilient.
The first stage of the partnership will see Unicef UK work with the council to develop six ‘badges’ which the council will strive towards achieving.
Work is already underway, with a number of ‘Discovery Days’ held earlier in the year with young people and council officers to help decide the themes for the badges.
These themes will be finalised in January 2018, along with a three-year plan to help guide the partnership.
As the partnership continues, monitoring, including the views of a panel of experts, which will include young people, will assess the progress being made.
Using the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a guide, the programme is part of Unicef’s global Child Friendly Cities & Communities programme, which helps cities and communities in more than 20 countries to put children’s rights and well-being at their heart.
Child Friendly Cities and Communities are places where the voices, needs and rights of children are an integral part of policies, services and decisions.
The partnership will support the council’s aim of becoming the most family friendly borough in London by 2020.
To mark the launch, which coincided with World Children’s Day, 15 children from Barnet schools visited the council’s headquarters to take part in a ‘Takeover Day’.
Children were able to play a hands-on role in teams across the authority, and offer their views on the work of the council.
The young people also planned and led an awareness session for staff on some of the challenges faced by young people today.
Councillor Reuben Thompstone, Chairman of Barnet Council’s Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committee, said: “I’m delighted that Barnet has become the first local authority in London to partner with Unicef UK, it’s a really exciting opportunity and reflects our ambition of becoming the most family friendly borough in London.
“This three-year partnership will give us the chance to really focus on embedding children’s rights into more of what the council does.”
Naomi Danquah, Unicef UK’s Programme Director, Child Friendly Cities and Communities UK, said: “On World Children’s Day we asked local authorities in the UK to reimagine their cities and communities from the perspective of children and young people who live there.
“Putting children’s rights at the heart of local authority planning, policy and practice ensures that all children and young people, including the most vulnerable, are surrounded by effective, empowering and nurturing services.
“This moment enables us to commend and celebrate the bold commitment and vision of our partners, to work towards the realisation of children’s rights in their neighbourhoods and communities. We hope the launch of the programme will be the start of a nation-wide discussion about children’s rights in the UK and that it will help spotlight and share good and improving practice.
“This year’s World Children’s Day marks an important first step towards making children’s rights a lived reality for all children, including those in Barnet, as well as other cities and communities across the UK.”
Notes to Editors:
About Child Friendly Cities & Communities
Child Friendly Cities & Communities brings Unicef together with local government to make cities and communities places where all children, including the most vulnerable, feel safe, heard, nurtured and able to flourish.
Using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as our guide, we work with political leaders, commissioners, frontline staff, community and voluntary organisations and more, to make sure children have a say in the design and running of the services that are there to support them.
In doing so we aim to profoundly change the way local government works with and for children, so that children experience services that are built with and for them, know what services are available to them and feel safe and prioritised.
Child Friendly Cities and Communities is a global programme. Launched in 1996 and active in 24 countries, the initiative supports cities and communities to put the human rights of children and young people at their heart, translating Unicef’s global mission into practical action at the local level.
About Unicef’s work in the UK
Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories, including the UK to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.