We are child friendly Leeds. When I read that on the sea of badges at the table in Sue Rumbold’s office, I thought ‘yeah, love that idea!’ Big thumbs up! Sue is the chief officer for partnership development business support in childrens services at Leeds city council. After our meeting Sue offered me a badge and explained a bit about it. Since moving to work in Leeds 6 years ago I’d never really thought about the offer we have as a city for kids. That was until my wife and I gladly ended up with two of the little sprites and agreed that Leeds was to be the place to invest our family. Investment isn’t just financial. There’s a social investment to be made by people into a place. As a Dad, the idea of being an Ambassador for Child Friendly Leeds (CFL) was part of this social investment. It’s the same reason people become School Governors, volunteer in their community or raise money for charity. People want better things for the people and places they interact with or are passionate about and I care about Leeds. Given my day job that’s a good thing. OK, so you don’t have kids? Well, a better place for children has ultimately got to be a better place for everyone. As an example, if we get safer streets for children then we all benefit. If we help improve things for children that require more support than most, then Leeds as a city benefits.
So how am I actually being an ambassador for a Child Friendly Leeds? It’s more than wearing the pin badge, though I did the Leeds Skyride with my family wearing a shirt of CFL badges. I did tweet an arty picture of @Child_Leeds whilst backstage at Leeds Festival too. Small stuff, but that’s all it takes. In a similar way to equality and diversity, I’m conscious in my everyday role of how I might impact or deliver additional benefit to the children of Leeds; a kind of child friendly health-check. I also work with a lot of different agencies in my day job, so part of being an Ambassador is to make the most of work they do that can help one of our City Ambitions (it is one by the way!).
More tangible efforts I am working on link to the Tour de France. As I sit on the delivery group, I am pulling together an event as part of November’s ‘Take Over Day’ (more on that at http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/takeover_day), where we will get some youth groups to contribute to the way in which we deliver Tour de France. Rather than a bunch of adults all deciding what will be best for children and young adults at the event, let’s get their views and opinions and build them into what we actually deliver. The same applies to the legacy of Tour de France – what do children want the legacy to be? Empowering children to influence and make decisions fits perfectly with the United Nations Convention on the rights of the Child. It’s a win-win for delivery of the event; demonstrating consultation and engagement, matching the values of Tour de France and we can listen and improve things, instead of just assuming.
I’m cycling down through Italy this month (about 1000 miles) and I’ll have a badge with me to do some plugging (it’s a shame there’s no mascot to take!). When I get back I’ll be working in a personal capacity on an initiative to lower speed limits in residential areas. There’s a lot that I can’t change, but maybe you can? A collective momentum. On the big stuff, if we tackle the causes of child poverty, poor education or even abuse then we reduce the impacts. These impacts are life changing for that child who doesn’t yet know it and essential if as a city we want to be and do the best for our future generation; our city legacy.
I’ve attended one Ambassador Event so far and met some great people. I’ve found it easy to contribute to and whether you have children or not… It can only benefit Leeds. There’s basically no down side to wanting a better place for everyone. Oh and here’s where to sign up… www.leeds.gov.uk/childfriendlyleeds