How can we connect up and strengthen our work to get children’s voices heard in London?

How can we make sure children have the options you want for speaking up on issues you care about?

These are the questions we brought children, young people and practitioners together to explore in London in February. Inspired by a talk from the young people involved in Greater Manchester's new Youth Combined Authority, which gives young citizens a formal, ongoing role in Manchester policy-making, we looked at all the ways children can currently make their voices heard on issues they care about in London, and the ways adults working with them can share and improve how they support this process. 

It was great just to see how many opportunities exist already for London's younger residents to have their say (although many were subject to robust critique by the youngest delegates, as they aren't all inclusive or effective). The full list is in the write-up downloadable below, but here are a few:

  • The Lynk Up Crew, who inform the work of the Mayor of London
  • Local Youth Parliaments like Brent's
  • School Councils (which should start in primary schools but often are only for older children)
  • UK Youth Voice's Dare London programme
  • Spirit of 2012 young people's groups
  • The new London Children in Care Council

There are also several networks for adults working in child and youth participation to connect and share practice, including:

  • Partnership for Young London
  • The Participation Workers Network (in mental health)
  • London Independent Reviewing Officers Practitioners Forum
  • The Alliance for Childhood's London Forum

In small groups, we looked at how some of these existing networks could be improved or complemented by new ideas. Again, full detail on people's ideas are in the write-up, but here is the proposal from the under-18s group, which addresses so many of the areas children and young people want more support and involvement (including inter-generational activities), we think it's important for people to hear about - and take action on! 

YETI: Youth Affecting Today’s Ideas in Society

“For the young people by the young people”

One young person in the group said: We came up with YETIs because we as children and young people need:

  • More spaces to play
  • Greater access to food and cooking
  • Drop-in spaces

The idea:

A physical and digital hub, one in every community in London, designed by and for children and young people. Linked to public services and decision-making. Not in schools.

The function of the hubs:

  • They teach life skills like PSHE, financial skills, cooking lessons
  • There’s food on the weekends and in the holidays
  • Spaces to play / sport
  • Theatre
  • Youth clubs
  • Transport is provided
  • Open all day every day for drop-in
  • Possibly separate age groups
  • Activities like gardening that bring different age groups together
  • Public service commissioners can visit to involve cyp in commissioning services

To make it effective:

  • It’s for all ages, 0 – 100
  • Open to everyone, either by coming to the hub or online
  • The services and timetable are designed by YETI members (all children and young people) and voted on by all those that want to
  • Digital: designed by children and young people who’ve been trained at the centre (Skype group, WhatsApp, Twitter polls and website)

- Download the full write-up of the event