Agenda item

Agenda item

Child Friendly City Update

Report of the Strategic Director (Children and Education Services)


Following the formal announcement at Full Council on 31st January 2024, committee members will be familiar that Manchester is working with UNICEF UK's Child Friendly Cities and Communities programme to put children's rights into practice.


We are now in our ‘development phase’ of the programme.  This is the phase where an action plan to progress and deliver each of the chosen ‘badges’ are to be considered and agreed by the Executive on the 15th of March 2024.


The action plan(s) will demonstrate how we will progress and evidence progress against each respective badge.


The badges were chosen after a record breaking consultation which saw over 11,000 children and young people take part.


The top three badges identified by Manchester’s children and young people for the city to focus on are : Safe and Secure, Place and Healthy.


In addition to these the city will focus on a further three core badges

Culture, Communication and Co-operation and Leadership. We have also committed to ensuring that the Equal and Included badge is a cross-cutting golden thread across all we do.


The city’s bid for UNICEF recognition will now see the council and local partners putting children’s rights into practice over the coming years, as we work together towards our shared goal for Manchester to be a UNICEF Child Friendly City.


Scrutiny members will have the benefit of seeing, and providing feedback on our respective draft action plans  that will be submitted to UNICEF for final approval on the 7th March. 


Final action plans will be presented to the executive for sign off on the 15th March 2024.


The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director (Children and Education Services) which provided an update on work to become a Child Friendly City, including information on the chosen ‘badges’ for Manchester to focus on, the mandatory badges and the action plans for progressing and evidencing progress against each respective badge.


Key points and themes in the report included:


·       Manchester’s badge selections;

·       Mandatory badges; and

·       Delivery stage.


Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:


·       To welcome the report and the work taking place;

·       To welcome the number of children and young people who had been involved in the discovery phase of this work;

·       To emphasise the importance of children and young people being able to influence policies and strategies that affected them and discussion of options of ways this could take place, such as a children and young people’s assembly;

·       That planning was a key area where the voices and needs of children and young people needed to be integrated into decision-making on developments across the city;

·       Positive comments about the children’s rights training;

·       That Councillors needed to ensure that they listen equally to the voices of children and young people as to the voices of adults, in particular, in relation to the development of local areas;

·       The positive impact on pupils and the city of schools becoming Rights Respecting Schools; and

·       Barriers to young people gaining work experience.


The Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People agreed that it was important that children and young people be involved at the highest level of decision-making and outlined some of the work which had been taking place to identify the best way to do this, in particular, the development of Area Youth Forums in different parts of the city.  He advised that further consideration would be given to how the Forums could be brought together on a citywide level and have input into scrutiny meetings and Council meetings.  He highlighted that the work to become a Child Friendly City was much wider than Children’s Services.  He informed Members about conversations which were taking place with colleagues in Strategic Development, who were looking into how young people who could be more involved in local design and advised that all Ward Councillors had a responsibility to ensure that the voice of children and young people was taken into account in decision-making and that the children’s rights training would assist with this.


The Director of Neighbourhood Delivery reported that Manchester had a strong Youth Council, which would continue; however, he advised that there was a need to introduce better engagement with a wider range of young people at a neighbourhood level so the Area Youth Forums would be rolled out from March 2024, working with youth providers in the area.  He reported that parks were important to young people and connected strongly with the top three badges identified by Manchester’s children and young people for the city to focus on are (Safe and Secure, Place and Healthy) and that work was taking place on the mechanisms through which young people would be consulted on parks and open spaces.  He advised that consideration was also being given to the best ways that different groups of young people, such as those with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), could be engaged with. 


The Strategic Director (Children and Education Services) reported that children and young people had said that the areas where they lived were important to them which was why the initial work was focused on this.  He advised that the Child Friendly City work was intended to result in long-term changes in the culture, planning and decision-making in Manchester, beyond achieving the accreditation.


The Chair reported that the Council had passed a motion to become a Co-operative Council and advised that this approach should be incorporated into the work to become a Child Friendly City.  She also highlighted the role of the police in treating children and young people with respect.  She emphasised the importance of Members going into schools and colleges to speak to children and young people, as many had done during Our Year, stating that Members and officers should continue to do this.  She cited an example of work to create a park on disused land and advised that, when new apartment blocks were being developed, small parks and play areas, including ones which were accessible for disabled children, should be built, using Social Value.  She also highlighted the role of Play Streets.


In response to comments from the Chair, the Strategic Director (Children and Education Services) informed Members about work to challenge the criminal age of responsibility.  He highlighted Greater Manchester Police’s Child-Centred Policing Plan for Manchester and reported that the Chief Superintendent for Manchester would be invited to be one of the Child Friendly City Programme Champions.  He expressed a commitment for businesses to be involved in this work and reported that young people were a priority group for Social Value.  He advised that Social Value could provide not just resources but also opportunities, such as work experience, particularly for children who were less well served and who did not have these opportunities.


The Child Friendly City Lead welcomed Members’ comments and stated that officers would make sure that they were reflected in the action plans.


The Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People acknowledged the difficulties with obtaining work experience and advised that the Council was investing in a dedicated resource to match businesses with schools and colleges.




To welcome this work, noting that Members’ comments will be reflected in the final action plans.

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