Children’s Commissioner
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All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children, reflections from my Ambassadors

Last week I joined the National Children’s Bureau who hosted the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children in Parliament. The aim of the APPG was to ask how the next Government will prioritise the issues that matter to young people.

One of the key themes to come out of the APPG focused on how children and young people could be involved in the decision-making process on issues that impact their lives.

During the APPG, I addressed the attendees, highlighting the recent publication of my report, The Big Ambition, which found that only one in five children felt their views were important to the adults that run the country.

Halfway through my term as Children’s Commissioner, and having spoken to a million children, I know this generation of young people are dynamic and they know the power of politicians. They want to be involved in decision making – they saw politicians so powerful things like close schools and introduce the vaccine roll out – they now want to be part of the decision-making process.

I was delighted to be joined by some of my Ambassadors at the APPG, and a number of them addressed the panel consisting of Tim Loughton (Conservatives), Ashley Dalton (Labour), Munira Wilson (Lib Dems) and Ria Patel (Green Party), sharing their experiences.

I’ve asked my Ambassadors who addressed the panel to share some of their experiences:

Tamar, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

It was great to share my experiences with the APPG about being a care experienced young individual. I spoke about the positives, which was my experience with my caring foster family – I couldn’t imagine a better family to have fostered me!

But I also share some of the more negative experiences – at the age of 6 I had to move away which meant I now had a new family, new friends, new school, a new curriculum and a new home. There are no words to describe how it feels to have your whole life flipped upside down, with a sense of normality disrupted, and with next to no help with the adjustment to this new life.

Only 14% of children in social care progress to university compared to approximately half of other young people – maybe it’s this constant change that cause this, with care experienced young people feeling like they don’t see the point in developing a stable future when they don’t have a stable present.

I called on the government to match up children with the best fit possible and have schools within the same curriculum. Just because these children don’t have a ‘typical’ family or home life, does not mean they are to be neglected or a lost cause. I hope that by sharing some of my experiences the panel can always keep care experienced people in their mind when making decisions about the lives of young people.

Ben, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

At the APPG I spoke about what the next government needs to do to support people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. I spoke about my experience having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and DLD (Developmental Language Disorder). I also spoke about how it took just over six months to get my appointment and how much that appointment changed not only my life, the lives of my family and how the next government needs to decrease the waiting list for SEND appointments as these appointments do change people’s lives.

I think the next government also needs to add SEND to the PSHE curriculum, as SEND is a unknown subject to most people so if everyone knows more about it, it will be made more accepted in society because if the next government don’t do anything I’m sure most people will find out the wrong information on social media instead of being able to learn the right information in school

Maya, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

At the recent APPG event I spoke to the panel about the topic of mental health and what I would like the next government to do to improve the lives of children and young people. I was extremely honoured to have been able to speak about this as it’s a very personal topic for me. I think it is a massive issue, which the government needs to prioritise.

In particular, I spoke about people with hidden struggles in their lives. An example is young carers, who already have so much going on in their lives with additional responsibilities. An additional stress impacting their mental health will only make their already tricky life even harder. If we can try and relieve some of these burdens, they will be able to achieve so much more. I want the next government to prioritise the mental health of children and young people, particularly those with hidden struggles in their lives.

I am reiterating the call I made to politicians and policy makers when I launched The Big Ambition: listen to children and act on what they are telling you.

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