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How children and young people in Leeds have led the city’s future plans


A ‘wish list’ by children and young people in Leeds on how they see their home city develop shows how policymakers can meaningfully involve the next generation.

Child Friendly Leeds ran a consultation across the city, asking young people to highlight the key issues which they viewed as most important and relevant to their lives and, crucially, what they wanted the city to focus on for the future.

Improved mental health support, action on climate change and the basic right to ‘feel safe’ were just some of the topics fed back to city leaders, who say it is ‘crucial’ that they fully understand the needs and wishes of young people.

The Child Friendly Leeds initiative, which is run by the city council but involves partners and ambassadors from across all disciplines, is now in its tenth year. This culminated in a new exhibition, which children and young people are being encouraged to attend and give further feedback about how they see the future of the city, which has a population of just under 800,000.

Feedback until now has led to the development of 12 specific Child Friendly Leeds wishes:

  • Children and young people know how and where to get support for their mental health and wellbeing if they need it
  • Children and young people have safe spaces to play, hang out and have fun
  • Children and young people express their views, feel heard and are involved in decisions that affect their lives
  • Differences are celebrated, so children and young people feel accepted for who they are. They do not experience bullying and discrimination
  • Everyone takes more action to protect the environment from climate change
  • Children and young people can travel across the city safely and easily
  • Children and young people know about different things to do and places to go across the city. They enjoy different cultural experiences including art, music, sport, and film
  • Leeds is a city that reduces the impact of poverty and helps families in need
  • Having the support and information to make healthy choices, and opportunities for regular physical activity
  • All children and young people are in learning settings that meet their needs
  • Young people have access to a wide range of work experience, employment, and volunteering opportunities
  • Leeds is an inclusive city for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities

These points have already had a tangible influence on citywide strategic planning and priorities, and led to various important projects, with Child Friendly Leeds ambassadors forming from voluntary and community groups, businesses, education settings and public sector partners.

‘It’s crucial we understand the key issues facing young people in the city’

Examples include a collaboration with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the bus operators in West Yorkshire to deliver cheaper public transport and a simplified fare structure for children and young people. There are also more spaces, places and activities on available to families in the city centre thanks to the Child Friendly Leeds City Centre Partnership Project, which won a National Leadership Award for Public Services in 2020.

Councillor Fiona Venner, executive member for adult and children’s social care and health partnerships, said: “To ensure that Leeds can be as child-friendly a city as possible, it’s crucial that we understand the key issues facing children and young people in the city.

“As Child Friendly Leeds turns 10 years old, it makes perfect sense to revamp and refresh the wishes that help drive the council’s ambition to make Leeds the best city of children and young people.

“I’d like to say thank you to the children and young people who participated in consultations with the council, as well as the groups and schools involved in creating the new wishes.

Click  here for more information on Child Friendly Leeds.

Author: Simon Weedy

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