Pembrokeshire County Council were nominated for every category of the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community Awards, testament to their focus on improvement, which led to the council winning the Special Judges Award. Here Rose Davis writes about Childrens and Young People’s Rights and Participation in the county.
A recurring theme from inspection and scrutiny from external bodies of services for children and young people in Pembrokeshire in 2011/12 was that the voice of the child hasn’t always been heard by those delivering services, whether these are services specifically for children, or broader services that children and young people use. In response to this, we prioritised a range of initiatives to ensure that the voice of the child is heard.
Our broader aim was to strengthen community cohesion by encouraging the development of a greater understanding and acceptance of the views and perceptions that exist across the generations of the people of Pembrokeshire.
More specifically, we set out to ensure that there was greater opportunity for the voice of the child/young person in Pembrokeshire to be heard through the development of a rights and participation framework that sits at the heart of local democracy.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s Overview and Scrutiny committees regularly scrutinise progress in developing rights and participation; elected members have met with several youth forums and the local safeguarding children board and corporate parenting board have met with young people to listen to their views.
In taking this a step further, we wanted to create opportunities where young people are supported by adults to become active citizens, encouraging the development of inclusive and cohesive communities. To date, these areas for improvement have been progressed through the following:
- Pembrokeshire’s formal commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
- The design and distribution of a pledge for all children and young people in Pembrokeshire
- The establishment of a children and young people’s rights office.
- The re-launch of a more broadly representative Pembrokeshire Youth Assembly and its sub groups (including involvement from vulnerable groups e. g Looked After children, young carers and travellers)
- Training packages have been developed in order to educate adults and young people on children’s rights. A children’s rights e-learning package has been developed which will be completed by key council staff mandatorily.
- Pupil participation training has been delivered to senior staff in all secondary schools, link teachers and link governors. Social care staff will be trained in children’s rights as part of the
- Social Care Workforce Development Programme.
- The establishment of a junior safeguarding board