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7 September 2011

Preparations are underway for our busy autumn work programme

This week my colleagues and I have been concentrating on preparing for our busy autumn work programme. Our latest e-newsletter will keep you informed of the issues we are focusing on during 2011-12 and how we are involving children and young people and colleagues in the sector in all that we do. Do sign up to receive our e-newsletter on a regular basis.

I started the week in Belfast, along with the Deputy Children's Commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, where we joined our Children's Commissioner counterparts from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales for a meeting in Belfast to discuss matters relating to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and share best practice in our work to promote and protect children's rights.

As part of our work programme, we are also finding more out about the breadth and impact of cuts to services used by children, young people and families. We will feed our findings in our submission to the current consultation on the future of youth services.

The Children's Commissioner's Takeover Day on 11 November 2011 is fast approaching and the list of those who are taking part is rapidly increasing. Takeover Day supports Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, providing children and young people with opportunities to have a say in matters affecting their lives. We're continuing our efforts to get more children and young people and organisations from all sectors involved in the day - we receive extremely positive feedback from those who have taken part. You can sign up to Takeover Day on our website - it's a flexible event which can be tailored to suit your organisation.

I also want to remind you that there's a month to go before the deadline for submissions to the consultation for our School Exclusions Inquiry, which was launched in July. There are two versions of the consultation for children and adults to submit their views. We will hold evidence sessions in the autumn and look forward to reading your submissions ahead of the next phase of the Inquiry.

Looking at external news in the sector, the Children's Minister Tim Loughton's recently announced his plans to provide grants to 37 local authorities to develop their work with families with multiple and complex problems. I fully support the value of programmes such as multi-dimensional treatment foster care which can successfully intervene in families with deep-rooted problems. I make the point of the need to extend programmes like these across the country in my comments in The Guardian.

I'm always keen to highlight what's being done to promote and recognise the positive contributions that children and young people make in our society.  The voting for BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards  2011 has started, where you can vote for someone who is doing great work in their community.  Radio 1 is also partnering with The Prince's Trust, The British Youth Council and V Inspired for Radio 1's Big Conversation on 13th September. At the event young people will be joined by influential adults to discuss the key issues affecting 13-24 year olds.

I would like to pass on my congratulations to the British Youth Council on winning the new contract to run the Youth Voice initiative to support young people to have a voice in local and national Government. Congratulations also to all the young people who took their GCSE exams this year, I wish you all the best in your future plans.

My final comments are around the social unrest in August, which has led to many of us in the sector reflecting on the impact of the disturbances. We are continuing work, with others, to move into calm and longer term considerations of society's responses to what happened. Violence and disorder can never be condoned and debates now need to move into finding solutions to the causes of what happened. Of those going through the courts for the disturbances, to date around 20 per cent are young people aged 10-17. Far more children and young people across the country have since been, and remain, engaged in cleaning up their communities and speaking out about wanting to play their part in finding solutions and helping affected areas to recover  -  their efforts are to be commended.

Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England