I think that the that the way that you become a good city for children is by 1; giving children voice and influence, because again when we began to look in which we were operating in Leeds, we were very good at asking children questions and if we agreed with the answers children gave us then we would do something, if we didn’t we just ignored it.
So what we did is we created a voice and influence service to actually support children and young people to have a proper voice. The next thing that you need to be focused on and to understand is, what are the outcomes that you actually went for children and young people in the authority and they weren’t very complicated.
For people who remember every child matters, very similar. We wanted every child and young person in Leeds to be safe, we wanted them to be making healthy life style choice, we wanted them to enjoy education and have the skills for life, we wanted them to have fun – the kids told us that one – it should have been first but there you go.
Finally we wanted them to have voice and influence and that was one of the most challenging things. Once we began to work on that narrative we had a lot of support from both elected members across all the political parties, we had a lot of support from the normal partners we work with in health, education and police. But what we began to do was attract interest from businesses and other sectors who weren’t generally aware of the work that we did with children and about what they could do to support children and young people.
So we had for example, Yorkshire water actually taking on supported internships for young people coming out of school with learning difficulties. So actually they look to invest and to look at how they work with children.
The local press became very interested and the narrative about children became far more positive as a result. Like many of the things we have done in Leeds they are not that complicated. They’re very simple things but what we have done is continue to work at it. We had a children and young people’s plan that looked at how we would support children to achieve those five outcomes.
The first version of the plan was developed in 2010, it is not significantly different now in 2020 excuse that focus on outcomes and how we will work together to achieve them, hasn’t changed. What we are tracking now is progress
The 12 Wishes – Children and young people find the city centre welcoming and safe, with friendly places to go, have fun and play:
Councillor Lisa Mulherin (Executive Member for Children and Families, Leeds City Council) – ‘we held a competition last year to ask children across the city what they would like to see to make Leeds City centre a better place for them to be’.
Rumani’s Idea – Pay as you feel café. What we have done: Fun activities in Kirkgate Market, summer Child Friendly Leeds Sundays and city centre pay as you feel cafe
Rumani (Braken Edge Primary School, Leeds) – ‘The idea that I got was that I want everyone to have food whether they have a lack of money or they have a lot of money because we all need food. I think it will help a lot because it is in town if you just want a quick snack or you’re coming for a lunch which is a reasonable price, I think it’s going to affect a lot of people’.
Leo’s Idea – 2nd Hand recycling Park. What we have done: SCRAP ran junk play on Cookridge Street. Leo met the team to help.
Abbie’s and Opemipo’s Idea – City Centre Children’s Park. What we have done: Pop up and play – Victoria Gardens, City centre pop up parks and future plans for city centre park.
Lizzie (Headteacher, Suffolk, holiday visit to Leeds) ‘So this is our third day returning to Pop up and play. My children have absolutely loved all of the activities at the moment they are really enjoying playing with the table tennis, and they’re playing with children they have only just met today. It has just give me the impression that it is a child friendly place to be. As a parent it makes me feel that Leeds is a place that actually wants children and families to be’.
Chelsy’s Idea – Rolla Disco. What we have done: City Centre Rolla Disco, Opened by Children’s Mayor, Inclusive sessions for additional needs.
Library Games Group’s Ideas – Safety/Events/Travel. What we have done: Free WIFI, Millennium Square free children’s films, Meetings with transport providers.
Goodwin, Cameron, Joe, Samuel and Simon – Snapp App
Cameron, Godin and Joe (Abbey Grange Academy, Leeds) ‘We aim to encourage young people to explore Leeds through photography and win prizes. The top people who get the most likes on their pictures will win prizes like vouchers. It just makes the whole shopping experience more enjoyable and fun for children’.
Will’s idea – children’s festival. What we have done: Child Friendly Leeds Live – August, Variety of fun activities for families, Will introduced Andy and the Odd Socks
Will (Tranmere Park Primary School, Guiseley, Leeds). ‘I’m going to be introducing Andy and the Odd Socks with Alex on stage, I feel very excited especially seeing CBeebies legends that I used to watch growing up. I’m hoping they will remember this day and be more happier ‘let’s give it up for Andy and the Odd Socks’’.
Ella’s Idea – Harry Potter workshop. What we have done: History of Magic exhibition, Activities and Workshops, First Direct Arena screenings, Tickets for winner and family
Jazmin’s Idea – Indoor Playhouse. What we have done: St John’s centre Indoor Playhouse, Leeds Play Network & SCRAP, Easter and Summer Holiday sessions.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin (Executive Member for Children and Families, Leeds City Council) ‘Our business partners in Leeds City Centre have been amazingly supportive. We want to make sure that the city centre is as child friendly as it can possibly be so that it is the best place for children to grow up in and so that they can enjoy their city to the full extent’.
d december 2023