Earlier this week I attended the 94th pre-session in Geneva where I gave evidence to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The pre-session was an important opportunity to raise some of the most pertinent issues that are affecting children living across the UK today. Alongside the other commissioners from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Jersey, I spoke about the need to promote and protect children’s rights.
During the session I had a chance to speak about the need to prioritise the most vulnerable children, including unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) and children who have been victims of abuse. I talked about the need for reform in our children’s social care system and the opportunity that the Government’s implementation strategy, ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’ presents. A sense of urgency is now needed to turn these plans into a reality swiftly for children involved in the care system.
My evidence builds on the submission to the UN committee, published in December, where I raised a broad range of issues that affect children across the UK. In this submission I focused on groups of children that are particularly vulnerable, specifically in care, children with disabilities and children living in disadvantaged households. It was important to me to draw the committee’s attention to these three groups of children as they are consistently not achieving the outcomes they could. Their voices and experiences must be heard and acknowledged.
I also want to thank and congratulate students from Blacon High School in Chester who are on my Children’s Advisory Board and represented us at the 94th pre-session children’s meeting. I’m grateful to them for sharing their thoughts and ideas for making children’s lives better. As a group they chose to discuss equality for women in the workplace and what can schools can do now to help to secure equal opportunities. I look forward to seeing how children’s voices will be reflected the committee’s concluding observations.
In the coming months I am looking forward to having the voices of children from my Children’s Advisory Board and Care Experienced Advisory Board shape my priorities and policy work. I will continue to advocate for children’s rights to be upheld and ensure that their voices are heard by decision makers across the country.