Young Voices in Leeds: Making Their Mark on National Policy

in Horsforth

Children and young people from Leeds had a unique opportunity to share their views and experiences directly with Rachel Reeves, MP and Shadow Chancellor, during the first stop of a national tour organized by the Children’s Charities Coalition.

This event marks a significant step in bringing the voices of the younger generation to the forefront of political discussions, ensuring their concerns are heard and addressed by key decision-makers.

Image name Rachel Reeves MP at the visit with young people supported by Barnardos the 1 image from the post Young Voices in Leeds: Making Their Mark on National Policy in

Rachel Reeves MP with young people supported by Barnardo’s who attended the visit on Friday

Amplifying Young Voices

The meeting, which took place at Barnardo’s regional office in Horsforth, included seven young people supported by Barnardo’s in and around Leeds. They voiced their hopes, goals, and the challenges they face, directly to Rachel Reeves. Among the pressing issues discussed were the long waiting lists for mental health services, the lack of support available after turning 18, and the struggles schools face in meeting individual needs.

Cody, a 16-year-old participant, emphasised the importance of empathy and understanding from those in power, expressing relief and hope after sharing his experiences with Rachel Reeves. The sentiment was echoed by all the young participants, highlighting the fundamental need for adults in power to listen and respond to their concerns.

The Children’s Charities Coalition and Their Mission

The Children’s Charities Coalition, a partnership of five leading UK children’s charities supported by over 200 organisations, has launched the “Children at the Table” campaign. This initiative calls for the next UK Government to prioritise babies, children, and young people in their policy-making processes, backed by significant investment to transform childhoods across the UK.

The coalition’s campaign aims to ensure that political parties place the needs of the younger generation at the heart of their manifestos before the upcoming general election. This national tour is part of the coalition’s efforts to facilitate direct engagement between MPs from both major parties and children in their constituencies.

Rachel Reeves MP’s Response

Rachel Reeves expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to hear directly from the young people about their desires and expectations from the next government. She emphasised the importance of giving children and young people a platform to express their views, acknowledging the valuable insights gained from these conversations.

Barnardo’s Role and Perspective

Lynn Perry MBE, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, stressed the importance of placing the needs of children and young people at the center of government decision-making. She highlighted the significance of MPs from different political parties taking the time to meet and understand the experiences of young people, fostering a determination to drive positive change.

About the Children’s Charities Coalition and Its Members

The Children’s Charities Coalition includes:

  • Action for Children: Protects vulnerable children and young people by providing practical and emotional support, ensuring their voices are heard, and campaigning for lasting improvements in their lives. With 426 services across the UK, they helped 765,906 children, young people, and families in the last year.
  • Barnardo’s: Focuses on changing childhoods and lives to ensure safety, happiness, health, and hope. Last year, they supported 373,200 children, young people, parents, and carers through over 800 services and partnerships across the UK.
  • The Children’s Society: Works with the most vulnerable children and young people in Britain, offering support, advocacy, and action to ensure no child feels alone.
  • National Children’s Bureau: For 60 years, they have championed the rights of children and young people, shaping legislation and policies to support children and families effectively.
  • NSPCC: The leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands, providing critical support to children and parents, and advocating for necessary legal and policy changes.

Final Points

The national tour initiated by the Children’s Charities Coalition is a crucial step in ensuring that the voices of young people are not only heard but also acted upon. By engaging directly with MPs, children and young people can influence the policies that affect their lives, fostering a more inclusive and responsive government.

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