Child in the City international seminar Child Poverty in Western Cities


Welcome to the fourth Child in the City International Seminar which took place in Leeds, UK 21-22 November 2019. The main theme of this seminar was ‘Child poverty in western cities’. This was a joint project of the Child in the City Foundation and the City of Leeds.

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The Child in the City International Seminar’s bringing together experts and policymakers from different relevant fields around a specific theme of the child-friendly city agenda.

The Child in the City International Seminars are tailored to the specific needs of a city and therefore focused on one specific theme.

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The main theme of this international seminar was Child poverty in western cities.

Child poverty is an often hidden phenomenon in western cities masked by figures of the overall prosperity of cities. It often concentrates in specific highly segregated neighbourhoods. We recognise that many cities are polarised and have children both who live in wealth and others who live in poverty. Child poverty has many faces and affects children’s development in a number of negative ways. In this seminar, we focussed on both expanding our knowledge of child poverty and building on solutions in the form of best practices and innovative policies.

This seminar comprised a number of keynotes exploring theories and definitions of child poverty, the effects of child poverty on children and their families and, ways to tackle this issue from an interdisciplinary approach.

Within the overall theme of the seminar the following sub-themes were explored:

  • Child poverty and children’s agency
  • Child poverty and educational environments
  • Child poverty: Urban segregation and marginalisation
  • Addressing child poverty in interdisciplinary ways
  • Child poverty: Lessons from two cities Dortmund and Madrid


The Scientific Programme Committee for the fourth Child in the City International Seminar in Leeds ensured the review and preparation of a high-quality programme with a variety of speakers:

Lia Karsten (MSc/ Ph.D.) is President of the Child in the City Scientific Committee and an associate professor of Urban Geographies at the University of Amsterdam. She is an internationally recognized expert in the field of urban childhood, changing family life and the use of urban public space. She has published several books and many papers in high standard scientific journals. Lia is the author of the most cited paper in Children’s Geographies (Karsten, 2005). In 2013 she received an honorary doctorate from the Uppsala University, Sweden. She was a visiting professor in Hong Kong and New York. For more information about her

Andy Lloyd is Head of Children’s Workforce Development in Leeds Children’s Services. He is a qualified Social Worker and began his career working in the residential child care sector before moving to work in the fields of child protection and youth justice. After working in statutory services for 8 years, he then moved into the third sector where he managed a large family support service in Leeds. He then moved to work at two of the three Universities in Leeds, latterly as Head of Department. Nearly seven years ago, he took up the post of Head of Children’s Workforce Development at Leeds Children’s Services. Andy is passionate about restorative and relational practice and leads for the directorate on the roll out of the use of RP and he leads the Leeds Relational Practice Centre. Andy is responsible for ensuring that the voice of children is heard in Leeds and that their voice has influence. He is a strong advocate of the Child Friendly Leeds ambition.

Irene Quintáns worked in the Barcelona City Council and in the SEHAB – Municipal Housing Secretariat in São Paulo. As a consultant she works in urban projects, highlighting her role at Bernard van Leer Foundation developing Urban95 strategy in Latin-America (2016-18). Executive Leadership Program on Early Childhood Development (Harvard University). She is the founder and director of OCARA Network (

Sven De Visscher is a lecturer in social work at University College Ghent in Belgium. He is part of the urban education team in the department of social work that develops research and teaching projects about education and social work in urbanising contexts. Sven holds a PhD degree in Educational Sciences (Ghent Uni) since 2008, based on a study of the social pedagogical meaning of the neighbourhood for children. His main research topics include child friendly cities, childhood studies, urban public space, community development and urban regeneration. Selected publications on Sven also has a long experience in local playground work in the city of Ghent, Belgium. In the past, he has volunteered in ‘t Leebeekje (leisure centre for disadvantaged children,, Vlaamse Dienst Speelpleinwerk (national playwork association,, and Kind & Samenleving (research centre on childhood and society, Photo credit: Jan Locus.

Prof. Carlo Fabian is a social and health psychologist, coach and organizational developer. He is a Senior Researcher & Lecturer with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland – School of Social Work. His research and development work focuses on neighbourhood and urban development, participation, health promotion and prevention, childhood and youth, age and aging, and research methods. He has professional experience both at several universities and in practice. He is also a member of various national and international expert groups and panels. For more information about him

Froukje Hajer worked for 30 years in the field of non formal education and leisure time and the right of the child to play. Play- and youth work, extended schoolday programmes, community schools, and public space and a child-friendly environment are subjects of her interest. She realised local and national and local projects. She is the author of articles and publications on this themes (all in the Dutch language) and had developed vocational training-courses in the field of playwork and non-formal learning. She initiated advocacy work, related to children’s right to play, and the Child friendly cities network in the Netherlands. Many years she worked in community based organisations as child-worker (playworker)and as a youthwork-consultant at regional and national level. She wrote a manifest “To make work from play’ (Werk maken van spelen, in Dutch) to increase attention and discussion on this important part of children’s lives. Current position: Independent consultant youth policy and children’s rights related to ‘Child, play and environment’(owner). Boardmember of different organisations for childrens play and youthwork. Dutch councilmember of IPA (International Play Association). For more information please visit:


Child in the City is an independent foundation. The main objectives of the Child in the City Foundation is to strengthen the position of children in cities, promote and protect their rights and give them space and opportunities to play and enjoy their own social and cultural lives. We do this by providing communications platforms for academics, practitioners and campaigners for children’s rights to disseminate research and good practice.

The foundation observes 5 general guidelines and encourages national and local networks to translate these into specific local policies addressing local points of focus. The general guidelines are an holistic, integral and intergenerational approach; the importance of participation for children and young people; and dynamic trade and continuous challenge.