Children’s Commissioner
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The Big Ambition for a Better World

Compared to previous generations, today’s children are incredibly socially aware and politically engaged. They want to see a fairer, more equitable world, they are active in creating positive change and leaving a lasting impact for future generations to come.

This desire for a more just society was one of the strongest messages identified in The Big Ambition. Children want to change the world, they care about it, and they want to have their voices heard about how to tackle key issues facing children across England.

Yet despite this passion, only 22% of children agreed that people who run the country listened to what they had to say. Children said that this affects them in ways large and small, and on local, national and global scales. It means that when decisions are being made about building local parks, they are not asked for their views, although their desire for safe places to play and spend times with friends is palpable.

It means that when the national conversation turns to housing, it’s not about what it feels like to be a child in temporary accommodation having to move schools in the middle of an exam year, but instead about mortgages and getting a foot on the housing ladder.

And it means when it comes to elections, manifestos, and promises from their local MPs, children feel left out in the cold. They feel that because they don’t have a vote, the issues closest to their heart are never addressed. Even when they are talked about, they are rarely provided the opportunity to be heard.

However, children proposed many practical solutions to ensure their voices were heard, as well as ambitious visions for what childhood could and should look like for their generation

Responses to The Big Ambition highlight children’s passions and frustrations:

“The government should listen to children’s ideas more and children shouldn’t have to pass their idea to an adult to make it happen. children should be able to change the world too.” – Girl, 11.

“They should actually take younger people into account when they are making their manifestos.” – Boy, 16.

“I think they need to listen to children more as it is our future and the world that we will have to live in.” – Girl, 11

Children in this country consistently amaze me with their insight and awareness. But without the proper structures in place to consult with them, when it comes to elections, manifestos, promises from their local MPs or councillors, their opinions are too easily ignored. They are talked about, rather than to.

That’s why I have set out five overarching outcomes I want for every child in The Big Ambition, namely that they are safe, healthy, happy, learning and engaged in their community. To achieve this, the following ambitions must be supported:

  • Every child feels empowered to speak out about issues that they care about.
  • Every child’s thoughts, feelings, views, and ambitions are listened to.

You can read all my recommendations for how we can achieve each of these ambitions in The Big Ambition report.


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