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Their voices and views would be key to my six years in office. They had never been more important as the country considered how to build back from a pandemic that changed children’s lives overnight.

Dame Rachel de Souza discussing the big ask with students
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I wanted to capture these voices quickly. I wanted to hear in their own words what was most important to them in this post-pandemic world.

The result was The Big Ask, launched in March 2021: a collection of questions for children aged 4 to 17 about their hopes, fears, dreams, lockdown stories and their plans for tomorrow.

We received more than half a million responses from children, the largest ever survey of its kind.

Dame Rachel de Souza engaging with school children
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Children in care are no different. They share exactly the same hopes and aspirations, and are just as determined to make the most of their start in life.

The insights from The Big Ask make up the blueprint for my six years in office and have served as the foundation for all my work since. They show us that this generation is heroic, having endured a global crisis and are emerging stronger, determined and, for the most part, happy and optimistic.


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