In November 2018, following work with partner agencies and young people, Liverpool City Council submitted a bid to the global children’s organisation which cemented its intentions to put young people at the heart of everything it does.
On March 7th 2019, Unicef UK officially accepted the bid.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills Councillor Barbara Murray and Unicef UK Child Friendly Cities and Communities Programme Director, Naomi Danquah write about their journey on Liverpool’s road to becoming a Unicef Child Friendly City.
“The whole of the city was delighted in March 2019 when Liverpool began its partnership with Unicef UK’s Child Friendly Cities and Communities programme.
We had been working on the partnership bid as a collective with young people and a very wide range of partners since November 2018 so this success was the welcome culmination of months of effort.
Liverpool City Council has the political will to hear the voices of the children and to create opportunities for all children to achieve their fullest potential, therefore, the Unicef programme is, I believe, a very good fit with our best intentions.
The Citywide bid to become a Child Friendly City takes between three and five years and will involve systemic and corporate change. To achieve such high ambitions we will use the Unicef framework to help us assess and monitor the progress of our partnership.
A year later, what can I say, partners have met regularly with Unicef officials to learn more about the journey to become a Child Friendly City.
We have been extensively trained to ensure we understand fully the aims and objectives of Unicef; the extent and detail of children’s rights and the badge system that Unicef operate for Child Friendly Cities.
It has been a real pleasure to attend sessions with young people to hear their views and listen to their questions and concerns. At the Town Hall, they challenged all the organisations involved in the bid to do better for children and young people.
Our children and young people are a great credit to this city. They are well informed, kind and caring. It was a wonderful experience to listen to their reasoning to establish their choice of badges for the city to pursue and they have chosen wisely.
As a city, we will be aiming to establish the very best principles and practice of equity, health and place. I was lucky to speak about the place badge at a session held in Central Library and I am so pleased that our young people want to know more about where they live; have a greater sense of belonging and a desire to access the wonderful places and buildings of the City.
Liverpool is undergoing physical transformation that needs to be accompanied by cultural and social change that welcomes children and young people everywhere and promotes their well-being in every possible way.
I am confident that our Unicef journey to becoming a Child Friendly City will check our progress and ensure we do our children and young people proud.”
Councillor Barbara Murray is a former teacher and school governor. She is currently Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills — a post she has held since 2018.
“A few months into Liverpool City Council’s partnership with Unicef UK’s Child Friendly Cities and Communities programme, it was hugely exciting to join children and young people from across the city at their Discovery Day.
Within the children’s section of Liverpool Central Library, they told us what they love about their city — such as the festivals, shopping centres and parks — as well as areas they would like to see change. We heard stories that reflected a desire for improvements to mental health services, initiatives to tackle discrimination, and the development of safer spaces for children and young people.
The Development Day is a key stage in the journey to becoming a Unicef UK recognised Child Friendly City or Community. Our programme works with seven local authorities across the UK, all of whom are working to create cities and communities where all children — whether they are living in care, using a children’s centre, or simply visiting their local library — have a meaningful say in, and truly benefit from, the local decisions, services and spaces that shape their lives.
The programme is part of Unicef’s global Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI), in which 45 countries from Andorra to Vietnam are currently part of.
The initiative was set up in response to a United Nations resolution to make cities safe and sustainable places for everyone, of all ages, to live and thrive. As part of this, the UN declared that a key indicator of ‘a healthy habitat, a democratic society and of good governance’ is the wellbeing of children and young people.
We in the UK team are one year into our partnership with Liverpool, who are in the Development stage — the second of a four-part journey. We’re working with LCC’s Children & Young People’s Services team to develop their Action Plan, which will outline the steps the Council will take to embed children’s rights within their services.
As with all the key stages of the CFC programme, the Council will work directly with children and young people to develop this, ensuring they shape the decisions made and actions taken.
In just this first year of our partnership, a lot has changed for the children and young people of Liverpool. The impact of the pandemic and lockdown could significantly impact the long-term physical and mental health of many children, meaning local service providers will continue to meet new challenges for a long time to come.
Now more than ever it is vital that children’s voices shape the services they use, and support they receive. We should start the response by listening to the concerns and hopes raised by children and young people, and work towards ensuring that their rights are met.”
As Unicef UK Child Friendly Cities and Communities Programme Director, Naomi Danquah leads a multi-disciplinary team to translate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into a practical, outcomes-focused framework for professionals working with children and young people across the UK — from policy makers and politicians, to practitioners working at the frontline of children’s social care.
Prior to working at Unicef UK, Naomi Danquah held roles developing and delivering national, transnational and community-based social change programmes for a range of large and small NGOs and the public sector, including programmes focused on tackling illiteracy and widening access to justice.