‘Transformative’ campaign to help children and young people in Manchester

A year-long campaign will be the springboard to transforming the lives of youngsters in Manchester and propel it towards achieving Child-Friendly City status.

2022: Our Year is laying the foundations to make what leaders call a ‘lasting, positive difference’ for the next generation of what is one of England’s biggest cities.

The city, which has a population of over 550,000, has enlisted the help of local figures, leaders and innovators from the private sector to be official campaign ambassadors to help put youngsters at the heart of Manchester’s future. The campaign will also incorporate special fundraising projects specifically to support Manchester’s most vulnerable youngsters.

Bev Craig, leader-elect of Manchester City Council, said: “Covid-19 has laid bare the inequalities that are deep rooted in our society. Around a third of Manchester’s children are currently growing up in poverty and our young people have felt the brunt of the impact of the pandemic – missing vital education and left isolated from their friends. A formative time in their lives has been cruelly taken away from them. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds have been hit even harder.”

‘Around a third of Manchester’s children are growing up in poverty’

“We are a city with a powerful social conscience and 2022: Our Year is about closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. We cannot shy away from the challenges that face our city and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that everyone in this city can share its success.

2022: Our Year will also be a kick-start for Manchester to begin a two-year accreditation process to be recognised by UNICEF as a Child Friendly City.

The Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) is UNICEF’s initiative that supports municipal governments in realising the rights of children at a local level using the U.N. Convention on the rights of the child as its foundation.

It is also a network that brings together government and other stakeholders such as civil society organisations, the private sector, academia, media and, most importantly, children themselves who wish to make their cities and communities more child friendly.

She added: “This work won’t happen overnight, but the aim of this journey is to show our young people that they can succeed. We want to inspire them to think big, believe in their own potential and – ultimately – we want Manchester to be the very best city a young person can grow up in.”

Ambassadors will contribute their experience, talent, and time to consult and take part in events, support fundraising projects, and provide practical opportunities such as work experience and mentoring. They will be involved in official 2022: Our Year masterclasses, TEDx-style talks, a summer sports festival, local culture and arts activations, mental/well-being learning experiences, and an immersive career event.

‘We want to inspire youngsters to think big’

To achieve the status of Child Friendly City by UNICEF, a place must demonstrate that the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children are an integral part of public policies, programmes, and decisions. Feedback from young people, teachers and youth workers across the city has resulted in the council also creating sponsorship opportunities for local businesses to support two new essential funding provisions.

Sponsorship partners for both these funds will be actively involved in providing disadvantaged children and young people with meals, activities, and financial support, fulfilling their basic needs. The first is an Our Year Activities Fund which will provide consistent meals and easily accessible, safe activities during all the school holidays. Despite a partially funded system already being in place it only allows for six of the 13 weeks of the school holiday calendar.

As part of 2022: Our Year the council will include all school holidays and make it accessible to 0-18 age groups making sure no child or young person will go without. Manchester City Council will also begin a brand new Our Year Legacy Fund to provide financial support for day-to-day support for vulnerable children’s basic needs.

Councillor Garry Bridges, the council’s executive member for children and schools, said: “The last couple of years have been hard for children and young people – particularly in Manchester, where more face-to-face teaching has been missed than anywhere else in the country. Despite the challenges, our young people have shown dedication and resilience throughout and now it’s time for our city to stand up for their futures.

‘Our young people have dedication and resillience’

“Over the last few months we have gone out and listened to young people in every part of the city – they have told us what matters to them, and we now need to give young people the opportunities they want and deserve.

“We’re calling 2022 a ‘year of opportunity’ – but this 12 months is just a kick-start. We want this commitment to be long-lasting and one more thing that sets Manchester apart -with children and young people at the heart of everything we do.”

Click here for more on UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative.

Author: Simon Weedy

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