Children and young people have voted for three focus areas as part of Southampton’s bid to become recognised as a UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Child Friendly City. These include;
- Healthy – ensuring children and young people have good physical, mental and emotional health, are supported if they have any additional needs, and know how to stay healthy.
- Family & Belonging – Families of all shapes and size are supported to be together, can get help if they are struggling, and can enjoy activities and have fun around the city.
- Safe and secure – children and young people feel safe in their homes, neighbourhood and across the city, feel able to trust the police, teachers, and other adults, and can share ideas about improving safety in the city and can speak out if they feel unsafe or worried.
The results of the votes by children and young people will guide Southampton’s work over the next three-five years on its exciting partnership with UNICEF UK’s Child Friendly Cities & Communities programme. Listening to and involving children and young people is a critical part of every stage of the process, putting children’s rights into practice, reaping the benefits of embedding the voice of the child into city life and creating a place that welcomes, listens, aspires, involves, and nurtures.
In the summer 1,200 children and young people across the city took part in a survey, which highlighted the areas they thought most needed addressing. This was then fed back to children and young people, and they voted on their three priority areas, or “badges”. The three chosen badges will now form a body of work which will sit alongside three mandatory badges: Culture, Co-operation & Leadership, and Communications.
Robert Henderson, Executive Director Wellbeing (Children and Learning), said: “Firstly I would like to thank those children and young people that took part and told us what was most important to them. The three badges of Healthy, Family & Belonging, and Safe & Secure, these priority areas encompass important rights that we want every child and young person in Southampton to have. Work to implement these badges will take place alongside the three mandatory badges of Co-operation & Leadership, Culture and Communications. I look forward to seeing how the children and young people of Southampton inform the design, delivery, strategy, and policy on all of these areas.”
Sarah Handley, Child Friendly Cities & Communities Programme Manager at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said: “Southampton continues to find creative ways to listen to its youngest residents, who have now told the council what they want to see change in their local area. This is a huge milestone in the city’s journey towards recognition as a UNICEF UK Child Friendly City and we’re excited to see how the community comes together over the next few years to take action in these important areas.”