By Lauren Roberts-Turner, Young Leader of the ChildFair State Inquiry

This summer the ChildFair State Inquiry has been going for almost two years. The youth-led research into the change young people wanted to see of the welfare state was completed in the expected 1-year time period, with the unexpected complication of a global pandemic starting halfway through the process. As the effects of the pandemic and the measures to contain it began to materialise, we knew we could not simply publish a report and let it gather dust, un-read, on the shelves of well-meaning academics and practitioners and potentially less well-meaning politicians. No. too much had been lost for that. It was clear the time had come for a new social contract; one Children England and the voices of the young people of England had to be a part of shaping. 

In the months since the project began the social security landscape of Britain, and indeed the world, has been laid bare in ways that were unimaginable when I and the other Young Leaders of the project first met in an unremarkable function room in London. As the pandemic ravaged the globe, states all around the world were forced to step in with huge support packages previously unseen in peace time. This reinventing of the possibilities of the role of the state, combined with the strain Covid-19 placed and is continuing to place on our public services, has given the ChildFair State team the potential to push for radical change. Indeed, as huge swathes of the UK look to build back better, it is clear a precedent for a radical and transformative reset has been created out of the devastation wreaked by the virus. 

This is an opportunity we have seized with open arms. From contributing to a build back better publication by Compass and talking to both national and foreign research bodies during the lockdown, to sharing our research with interested parties from Save the Children to the House of Lords, we are doing as much as possible to make the voices of children and young people heard and begin our work of creating a modern Welfare State that truly allows all to thrive. We have used the temporary hiatus of much of the country during the pandemic to sound out our ideas with related organisations such as Children England’s members and NHS leads. Through this we have started to develop the asks that will deliver us the change this country and its children and young people desperately need to see. 

My favourite of these engagements was a talk Kathy and I did with Research in Practice during the second full lockdown. It was amazing to see the work already being done to improve services and strengthen communities and personally heart-warming for me to see the positive support our research and proposals generated from experts in public services. It gave me the hope, which I have retained to this day, that it really is possible - if we all come together - to create a society in which every single one of us can flourish and benefit from positive relationships with each other, our communities, our country and the world.

As we begin to move out of the extremes of the pandemic (at least in Britain), the groundwork we have been doing over the last year means the ChildFair State project is uniquely and perfectly placed to begin its mission in full. We will work to create a society that both has children at its heart and enables all to live fulfilling and supported lives. 

I hope you will join us in creating a society that works for all.