Cardiff is the UK’s first UNICEF Child Friendly City

Image: Cardiff Council

It’s official: Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, is a UNICEF Child Friendly City – the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.

This prestigious and internationally-acknowledged status has been awarded to Cardiff in recognition of the steps the city council and partners have taken to advance the human rights of children and young people across the city.

It’s the culmination of a campaign that began in 2017, when Cardiff City Council and its partners joined the UK Committee for UNICEF’s (UNICEF UK) Child Friendly Cities & Communities programme in 2017 as part of a pioneering cohort.

Since then it has worked tirelessly, putting in place strategies to embed children’s rights that are enshrined  in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into its own policies and services.

Working with the city’s children and young people, Cardiff has prioritised six key areas: Cooperation and Leadership; Communication; Culture; Healthy; Family and Belonging; and Education and Learning.

Image: Cardiff Council

These priorities and goals have been embedded the city’s Child Friendly Strategy since 2018. Working in partnership with organisations across the city, numerous and diverse projects and initiatives have been implemented to help ensure that children and young people are able to live their lives to the full, have their rights protected and reach their potential, whilst at the same time tackling those challenges that might limit their life chances.

Councillor Huw Thomas, the Leader of Cardiff Council Leader, said: “Since the launch of Cardiff’s Child Friendly Strategy, the city has embarked on a journey of transformation with the aim that all children, including the most vulnerable, feel safe, heard, nurtured and able to thrive, to become a place where their rights are respected by all.

‘The city has embarked on a journey of transformation’

“Through the shared ambition of other public services, extensive work has been carried out to ensure that Cardiff is a place where all children and young people, regardless of belief, ethnicity, background or wealth are safe, healthy, happy and able to share in the city’s success with equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents.

“The foundation of this change has been the development of a rights-respecting culture across the council and city-wide partners to ensure our staff are knowledgeable and confident regarding rights and their practice. This has been supported by policy which has empowered children and young people to be meaningfully involved in decisions that matter to them, enabling services to meet their needs and adults to be more accountable for the way children and young people’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.”

Image: Cardiff Council

Among the highlights achieved so far include;

  • 40,000 children and young people in wellbeing programmes including Summer of Fun and Winter of Wellbeing events.
  • Over 42,000 children and young people able to access early help and support via the new Family Support Gateway since April 2019.
  • Over 66,000 children aged 5-14 have accessed local authority play provision since April 2020
  • Nearly three quarters of Cardiff schools are working to embed children’s rights as part of the UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award.
  • Nearly 5,000 council staff have received rights training
  • 19 streets that are helping to reduce traffic at 22 schools have been made safer through the School Streets Scheme.

Coun Thomas added: “Receiving UNICEF Child Friendly City status is a key milestone in Cardiff’s long-term child friendly plans. The work to make a city where the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children and young people are at the heart of policies, programmes and decisions has significantly progressed but there is still work to be done and we remain committed to making children’s rights a reality and look forward to working with children and young people to further develop our rights approach.

‘Testament to commitment and hard work’

“I would like to congratulate and thank Cardiff’s Child Friendly team and all of our partner organisations who have helped to realise the city’s ambitions and who have made history, putting Cardiff on the map for its hard work and determination of putting children first in everything we do.”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said: “Becoming the first UNICEF Child Friendly City in the UK is testament to the significant commitment and hard work that has taken place by Cardiff council and its partners over the past five years. It also marks a promise to the city’s children and young people – that the council will continue to make sure children’s voices are at the heart of local decisions, and to making sure all children and young people – especially those who are most vulnerable and marginalised – have their rights upheld, now and in the future.”

Click here for more information on Child Friendly Cardiff.

Author: Simon Weedy

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