Cardiff launches its Child Friendly City Strategy

Cardiff's Child Friendly Strategy has been launched at City Hall by the Cardiff Public Services Board. 

This is a significant step towards Cardiff's aim of being internationally recognised as one of the UK's first Unicef Child Friendly Cities. 

It places the rights and voices of children and young people at the heart of Cardiff's policies, strategies and services; involving them in decision making and addressing the barriers which limit their life chances. 

Cardiff, alongside four other cities and communities in the UK, has been working with Unicef UK to gain international recognition as a Unicef Child Friendly City. 

Organised and staged by members of Cardiff's Children and Young People Advisory Board, the launch took place on November 20, coinciding with World Children's Day. 

The Chair of the Children and Young People Advisory Board, Rose Melhuish, said: "The commitment that Cardiff has made to become a Unicef Child Friendly City, I believe will change Cardiff throughout and it will give more opportunities to young people. It will give them the support they need and the education that they want. For example, getting the child's rights approach intertwined throughout all the services in the city is something that the Child Friendly Cities programme is trying to do, and that will give young people more opportunity."  

WATCH:  The Chair of the Children and Young People Advisory Board, Rose Melhuish and Board Member, Naz Ismail describe the changes that becoming a Unicef Child Friendly City could bring to Cardiff. 

Almost 100 attendees joined the young people and Cardiff Public Services Board members to mark the strategy launch, including Anna Kettley, Unicef UK's Director of Programmes, who spoke at the event. 

Other speakers included Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas and Chair of Cardiff & Vale University Health Board, Maria Battle - the Chair and Vice Chair of the Cardiff Public Services Board respectively - alongside the Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council, and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry, and Cardiff Council's Director of Education and Lifelong Learning, Nick Batchelar. 

Cllr Huw Thomas said: "Our ambition is for Cardiff to be the first in Wales recognised as a Unicef Child Friendly City, and I'm pleased that our partners across the public services share this ambition. 

"Around 130,000 of the city's population are under the age of 24, and 67,000 of them are under 15. If we want young people to be ambitious, successful and responsible citizens of this city, we have a responsibility to them. 

"The fact that Cardiff is a city of young people is a huge opportunity, with the creative potential of thousands of young minds who will soon become active citizens of Cardiff. Intellectually curious, creative, open minded." 

Maria Battle added: "As part of the Child Friendly Strategy, the Cardiff and Vale Health Youth Board is also being launched which will give young people across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan an official platform from which their voices can be heard and seriously considered.  We are also launching our children's rights charter today. It sets out our promises to children and young people in our care based on what they say is important to them and what they want from our services. We anticipate the youth board will play an active role in health services in Cardiff now and for future generations." 

Describing the work that is being done to make Cardiff a Child Friendly City, Cllr Sarah Merry, said: "Cardiff's commitment to becoming a Unicef Child Friendly City must be shaped by children and young people. Since the very beginning of our journey, they have worked with us so that we can find out where they think our priorities should lie. Based on what they've told us, we will be prioritising the three areas of education; family and belonging; and health. 

"We are already seeing progress in all three of these areas. Over 50 of our schools have started their journey towards becoming Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools. In May this year, we held our biggest car free event. Thousands of families were able to cycle in the city centre and enjoy a range of free family-friendly activities. 

"A Street Play pilot programme has started, where residents can apply to close their roads on a monthly basis, to enable children to play safely in their streets. Cardiff has also adopted a ‘Think Family' approach, making sure that public services are joined up and that children and families are given the right support, in the right way, at the right time in the first 1000 days of a child's life. 

"We are at the beginning of our journey towards becoming a Unicef Child Friendly City, with a lot more to come. Through this work we can ensure that the voices of our children and young people are heard." 

Unicef UK's Director of Programmes, Anna Kettley, said: "I'm delighted that Cardiff has chosen World Children's Day to launch its Child Friendly Cardiff Strategy; setting out how it will work towards international recognition as a Unicef Child Friendly City. 

"World Children's Day is an annual opportunity to recommit to protecting the rights of every child, including every child in the UK. It is fitting, therefore, that we have heard how Cardiff will bring those rights to life through embedding them in local services, programmes and policies.  

"I'm looking forward to seeing the strategy put to work over the next few years, transforming Cardiff into a city where all children, including the most vulnerable, feel safe, heard, nurtured and able to flourish."