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UNICEF UK report celebrates Child-Friendly Cities programme

Young people presentation at at Manchster Town hall, to Manchester councillors in connection with the council's application to become a UNICEF child-friendly city. Lily Lane Primary School L-R Uzziel 11, Nicole 10, Lord Mayor, Abdul 8, Hannah 10

Cities across the United Kingdom are truly embracing UNICEF’s drive to create a global network of child-friendly municipalities, says the charity.

UNICEF UK’s Annual Report 2023 highlights how almost a million children are growing up in areas of the UK that are taking part in Child Friendly Cities (CFC) and Communities.

Leading the drive is Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and its ‘far reaching’ achievements are, says the charity, ‘already having a demonstrable impact on the lives of children and young people, growing up in the city’.

“The city’s leadership has shown a strong and sustained commitment to children’s rights, and core local strategies are now developed and framed using child rights,” says the charity.

As previously reported by Child in the City, Cardiff has been praised for its pioneering work, including making ‘school streets’ a core part of local government strategies. It has established a permanent Child Rights Unit, and now has over 70 per cent of the city’s schools taking part in UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting Schools Programme.

‘Demonstrable impact on children’s lives’

Elsewhere in the UK, two new local authorities, Birmingham and Torbay, joined the CFC programme in 2023, adding to Liverpool, Manchester, Redbridge, Southampton, and the London boroughs of Redbridge and Lambeth as participating areas which are working towards full child-friendly city status.

“The programme aims to create cities and communities in the UK where all children – whether they are living in care, using a children’s centre, or simply visiting their local library – have a meaningful say in, and truly benefit from, the local decisions, services and spaces that shaper their lives,” says the report.

Child friendly status, it says , ‘recognises progress, not perfection,’ adding that it also signifies that a council and its local partners have taken ‘significant and sustainable steps in defined areas towards advancing the rights of children and young people growing up in their city or community’.

The year also witnessed the launch of the Child Friendly Cities and Communities Research Network, which aims to improve the connection between child rights research and the practical application of children’s rights policies across the United Kingdom.

Also highlighted in the report is the success of UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative and the Rights Respecting School Award, along with a full overview of the activities of UNICEF’s global operations, including of course its work to help children and young people affected by conflict in the Middle East, Ukraine and other war-torn territories.

Click here for the full report.

Author: Simon Weedy

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