As 2022 draws to a close Manchester is making an early New Year’s resolution to continue to do everything it can to realise its ambitions for the city’s children and young people.
The resolution comes off the back of the success of the council’s 2022 Our Year campaign which has united the city in providing a wealth of opportunities, experiences and support to help children and young people grow and learn, and to help expand their horizons again post-Covid.
The last year has also seen the council re-stating its commitment to ensuring children and young people have their views heard and taken seriously, and making sure they have a say in all council decisions – from major policies to decisions around the care they receive – as well as the opportunity to design local services and spaces.
The city is determined to keep the momentum of the last year going, and to build on its success, with the ambition that every child and young person in the city will be safe, happy, healthy, and achieve their full potential in life.
It is hoping the work it is doing now on this, and that planned for the coming months and years will also help the city in its bid to be internationally recognised as a Child Friendly City by the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), with the city having recently been accepted by UNICEF UK onto their Child Friendly City programme. The ambitious three-to-five year partnership will see councillors, council staff and local organisations turning to children’s rights – as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – to guide decisions that affect children and young people in Manchester.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People, Manchester City Council, said: “We want Manchester to be a city that belongs to its children and young people – where they can thrive, be happy, and achieve their full potential.
“Our determination to make this happen comes off the back of ‘2022 Our Year’ – our year-long campaign during which we’ve been listening to young people and working hard to create more activities and experiences for them to help broaden their experiences and improve their lives. We’ve seen first-hand the difference these things have made to young people and we simply can’t stop here.
“Our goal is to make Manchester the very best place in the world for children and young people to grow up in and so we’re really pleased to have also been accepted by UNICEF UK onto their international Child Friendly Cities programme.”
The last meeting of the city council saw children and young people from local schools, alongside Manchester members of the Youth Parliament, quiz councillors and speak to them about their hopes and ambitions for their futures and for that of the city.
Virginia Collins, Youth Parliament Member for Manchester, said: “If you give young people the tools for us to succeed now, then rest assured the city will be in safe hands with the next generation. Let’s work together to make Manchester the best city it can be for everyone living in it.
“Making Manchester a UNICEF UK Child Friendly City is in no way supposed to be easy but it is something that is vital for the future of Manchester. I and my fellow MYPs are all looking forward to getting involved with the programme and whatever it requires of us.”
If recognised as a UNICEF UK Child Friendly City, Manchester will join cities and communities in close to 50 countries taking part in the global initiative .
In order to be recognised the city will need to show evidence of sustainable progress in six different ‘badges’ – areas that children and young people think Manchester should prioritise to help make the city more child-friendly.
Progress in this will be closely monitored by an independent panel of experts in human rights, child well-being and public services, as well as an advisory board of local children and young people.
Naomi Danquah, Child Friendly Cities and Communities Programme Director, UNICEF UK, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Manchester City Council to the Child Friendly Cities and Communities programme.
“This partnership represents a bold commitment from the council and their partners to put children’s rights at the heart of everything they do – from early conversations around children’s spaces and services in Manchester, to the day-to-day running of those services.
“We’re excited to see this partnership make a real and lasting difference to children’s lives in Manchester.”