The children’s commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, has launched ‘The Big Ambition’, a new campaign to hear directly from children and young people about what they want from Government ahead of the next general election.
PRESS RELEASE – source: www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/media-centre
Dame Rachel de Souza wants The Big Ambition, which is being launched today, to be the most ambitious and comprehensive survey ever to capture children and young people’s voices. The results will be used to encourage policymakers to think about children and young people’s needs, to ensure their voices are reflected in the decisions that will affect them in years to come. As Children’s Commissioner, it is Dame Rachel’s duty to promote and protect the rights of all children, especially those children living away from home or receiving support from children’s social care services. She will be listening to children across the country, to hear about their lives so she can champion their priorities for the next election and will be trying very hard to reach as many children living in care or with care experience as possible.
Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza said: “When I talk to children and young people, they tell me how ambitious they are – for their futures, their careers, and for the economy. But too often, their voices are overlooked when it comes to decisions that will directly impact them for years to come. That’s why, I am launching The Big Ambition – to give children and young people a voice as we approach a General Election. I want to hear what they want Government to focus on, to make their lives and other children’s lives better.”
The Children’s Commissioner has sent The Big Ambition to almost 22,500 schools across England so she can start to hear from children and young people aged from 6 to 18. Parents are also being encouraged to complete the survey for those who may need additional support or on behalf of younger children (under 6) to make sure the needs of early years children are represented too. The Children’s Commissioner wants to make sure that she is hearing from children in all settings, particularly children in care. The survey is also being sent to children and young people in children’s homes, secure children’s homes, residential special schools, hospitals, young offender institutes, as well as hostels.
Over the next few months Dame Rachel and her team will be travelling across England visiting schools, colleges, children’s homes, secure children’s homes, residential special schools, hospitals, young offender institutes, as well as hostels, youth clubs and many other locations to ensure she reaches the widest group of young people as possible. Her campaign is being supported by social media influencers and campaigners including Dr Alex George.
Dame Rachel will be using the responses to encourage policymakers to think about what young people want, so children’s voices are reflected in their decisions.
When the Commissioner has a comprehensive picture of the practical changes children want to see she will be making sure children’s views and voices are understood by decision makers, policymakers and parliamentarians.
As one child said to the Commissioner: we “don’t get [our] voices heard and it’s our generation that will be impacted in the future by what does or doesn’t happen today.” – Girl, 17.
“Children and young people are sick of being on the sidelines of political debate. Now is the time for policymakers and the next Government to take on board their views and make the changes children and young people want to see for their futures,” Dame Rachel said.
Dr Alex George said: “As the Government’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador, I want every child and young person to feel supported and listened to by the people who make decisions that affect them. That’s why The Big Ambition is such a fantastic opportunity to hear the voices of young people on issues that they really care about – like climate change, mental health, and education”.
Commenting, Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said: “We welcome the Children Commissioner’s efforts to ensure that the views of children and young people are captured ahead of the next general election, and in particular, her efforts to ensure that the views of young children are included in this. While we know that the early years of a child’s life are key for their future development, when it comes to policy, all too often their perspectives and experiences are side-lined. Now, with the election on the horizon, there has never been more important time for the voices of children and young people to be heard. We look forward to keeping up to date with the progress of the campaign and its findings.” source: www.eyalliance.org.uk/news/2023/09
The Big Ambition campaign follows on from The Big Ask (which reached 500,000 young people) but is an opportunity for children, who cannot vote, to have their say in the run-up to the next General Election. Dame Rachel de Souza will use the answers to make sure children’s voices are heard by politicians from all parties.
The survey is available here. All children aged 6-18 and parents of children aged 0-18 can take part.