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London’s Lambeth launches bid for Child Friendly Community status

The South London borough of Lambeth is hoping to become a UNICEF UK Child Friendly Community, as a stepping stone towards becoming one of the country’s best places to grow up.It’s a shining example of how communities in cities worldwide can, with proper planning and a commitment to listening, start to break free from any ingrained problems around inequalities, and start to challenge perceptions of the places where people have, for decades, been proud to grow up and develop.

Lambeth is home to a high proportion of young people, and Lambeth Council is formally seeking recognition as a UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Child Friendly Community, one where the rights and voices of children are respected, and also where people and organisations support children to be safer, healthier and ultimately happier.

This is a three to five-year programme that will listen to what the children and young people of Lambeth have to say, and really empower them to influence local decision-making processes, while at the same time increasing awareness of a child’s basic rights.

‘Safer, healthier and ultimately happier’

Child Friendly Lambeth will be a partnership between Lambeth Council and UNICEF UK, with support from a range of other organisations and services including schools, the National Health Service, emergency services, and the voluntary sector. Over the next six months the council will get out into the community to ask children and others a key question – what are your priorities for the area? Some of Lambeth’s children and young people have already made a video to explain more about the programme – click here to see it.

Lambeth has a population of around 320,000, and the council’s most recent State of the Borough report acknowledges its fairly young demographic. While it is not regarded as one of Londons most deprived areas, it is, however, the fifth most densely populated place in the country, with 120 residents per hectare, and so the social challenges this brings are all too clear. Yet the statistics make it clear that this is not one of London’s poorest boroughs, and has more than its fair share of pockets of affluence. One thing that’s clear is that people are proud of the area, so this perhaps bodes well for a positive, engaging response to this new consultation exercise around the Child Friendly Community application.

Councillor Ed Davie, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “With excellent children’s centres, libraries, schools, parks and leisure centres Lambeth is already a great place for many children and young people to grow up. However, we know that we have challenges with child poverty, violence against young people and air pollution and we want all our children to have the best start in life.

‘Making sure children and young people thrive’

“This programme is another step in making sure that children and young people in Lambeth can thrive, with their rights at the centre of it all. It also marks a commitment from the borough to deliver actions which children and young people have a say. It fits brilliantly in our overall strategy for children’s services, where we have a variety of successes, but want to continue doing more to make sure young people and children in the borough know their rights, feel heard and can influence their future.

“We welcome everyone to get in contact with us and come to the events we will be holding around the borough to share their thoughts, comments and questions. We are really looking forward to taking the programme further and influencing the lives of young people in Lambeth for the better.”

Naomi Danquah, Director of Child Friendly Cities and Communities at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Lambeth to UNICEF UK Child Friendly Cities and Communities programme. In joining the programme, Lambeth has made a bold commitment to doing things differently for its youngest residents: using children’s rights to guide all its work with and for children and young people.”

Child Friendly Cities & Communities is a UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) programme that works with councils to put children’s rights into practice. It is part of a much wider network, Child Friendly Cities, a global UNICEF initiative launched in 1996 that reaches more than 30 million children in over 40 countries.

Author: Simon Weedy

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