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Derry City and Strabane District step up bid to become Child Friendly Community

11 November 2019

Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Western Health and Social Care Trust – leading on behalf of the Western Areas Outcomes Group - are stepping up their work with global children’s organisation Unicef to be recognised as a ‘Child Friendly Community’. 
Child Friendly Communities aim to create cities and communities where all children, whether they live in care, use a children’s centre, visit a leisure centre or local library have a meaningful say in and truly benefit from the local decisions, services and spaces that shape their lives.

With expert training and guidance from Unicef UK, the partnership sees politicians, staff and volunteers turning to children’s rights – as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – to guide decisions that affect children and young people.

The rights of the child to have their views heard and taken seriously will mean children and young people will have an input in the decisions that affect them – from major policies, to decisions around the care they receive – as well as the opportunity to design public services and spaces.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle said: “I am pleased to see that Council is progressing its work with Unicef to help make our City and District a place where children feel safe, heard, nurtured and are given the chance to flourish. 

“The recent formation of the North West Ministry of Youth and the forthcoming Community and Youth Discovery Day steps up the pace of the campaign which helps meet the objectives of our Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan to create neighbourhoods, communities and cities where children and young people are treated with dignity and have a say in the decision making process about issues that affect them.”

A Youth and Adult Advisory Panel have been working on the programme since July 2019 and are playing a pivotal role in shaping the direction and ensuring that things are being delivered in the most effective way.

Steering Group Member and Service Manager for the Youth Engagement Service Clare Maguire added: “We’ve being working hard with the community and voluntary sector and statutory partners across the District to ensure that the journey towards Child Friendly Community Status reaches as wide an audience as possible, especially our local communities.

“We’re running consultation workshops to establish the state of child rights in the District to help shape our action plan.

“The consultation will be taking place within existing youth centres where young people feel safe and comfortable to share their experiences with children as young as four years old.

“This will ensure that we choose the right areas of focus for the development of the action plan.

“I would encourage anyone working with children and young people who could take an hour out of their existing session to run the consultation to do so, it can be requested from [email protected] ahead of World Children’s Day on 20th November.”

World Children’s Day marks the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the Child (UNCRC) by raising awareness and funds to support the most pressing issues facing children.

From Monday 18th – Sunday 24th a range of buildings across the District will turn blue to mark the celebration.

A Child Rights exhibition can be viewed at the Verbal Arts Centre throughout November, the (JCI) Junior Chamber of Commerce are marking the day with a motion on the UNCRC and World Children’s Day in the annual voices of the Future Debating Competition and the NW Ministry of Youth will hold their first formal meeting at Pennyburn Youth Centre.

The week will come to an end with a Unicef UK facilitated Community and Youth Discovery Day on November 22nd 2019 at the North West Regional College where young people and adults from across the District will bring together all the remote consultation and data which has been collected in previous months to identify themes and decide which optional badges they will focus on for the development of the three year action plan.

The eight options include: Safe and Secure, Flourishing, Education & Learning, Participating, Child Friendly Services, Place, Family and Belonging, Healthy, Equal and Included or Innovation.

The Unicef Youth Advisory Panel have been instrumental in driving the programme forward and will support with the delivery of the day.

Representatives of the group benefited from Communications and Public Speaking Training delivered by Channel 56.

Rhiannan from the Unicef Youth Advisory Panel explained: “The advisory panel has allowed us to see the issues and solutions and how we, as peers and mentors can help improve things in the area.

“The communications and public speaking training is a rare opportunity as people our age don’t really get the chance to learn communication skills from experienced professionals and present in a formal way with a camera man.

“It was a great day and we really enjoyed it”

For more information on Child Friendly Cities and Communities visit unicef.org.uk/child-friendly-cities or request local information by emailing [email protected]