Rotherham's aim to become "child friendly"

Published Tuesday, 11th July 2017
Adoption children
Group of children

Rotherham is asking children and young people to help them make the town and surrounding borough "child friendly".

Leaders from across Rotherham Council, alongside partners and other agencies have pledged to make Rotherham a great place to not only grow up in, but to also stay and raise a family in.

Now the Council has launched a survey to fine tune this commitment – by asking children and young people to tell the Council what Rotherham being child friendly actually means to them.

From this the Council hopes to achieve a “wish list” of aims which it then promises to deliver on, wherever possible. These will form the heart of everything it does involving children and young people.

Child Friendly Rotherham, as it is being coined, is motivated by UNICEF’s child friendly city campaign inspired by the convention of human rights. It also takes a leaf out of Leeds City Council similar pledge, which it started five years ago.

Cllr Alan Atkin, lead member for Child Friendly Rotherham at Rotherham Council said: “If we want children and young people to get the best start in life; to succeed and to embrace and shape the future of this town then we need to make sure we are listening to what they are saying now.

“Without sounding like a cliché, it is the next generation which will ensure this town is a future success. That is why they need to feel like they have had a say in how it looks but also in what kind of future they see for themselves and their families. Only then will we have a prosperous and economic future here in Rotherham.

“Child friendly Rotherham is not just about doing the right thing for children; it’s about economic regeneration for the whole borough.”

He added Rotherham has an “impressive track record” in terms of education and skills achieved at its schools and colleges. But then young people leave to go to university or others move away for jobs, which has an impact on the rest of the town. 

“We need future generations to want to come back here, to invest in this town and to see this as the place where they want to bring up their own families when they have them,” add Cllr Atkin.

“That is why we need to listen now to what they are telling us and safeguard our town’s future.”

It is hoped the new survey will reach out to hundreds of young people and ask them to describe what is important to them to have a fun and safe upbringing.

This could be from being able to make safe journeys, having a town centre which is welcoming to young people or having plenty of spaces to play.

Children and young people are being asked their opinions in schools, at events throughout the summer and through the wider sharing of the survey, which will remain open until late August.

To help promote this, a group of young people from the Council’s Youth Cabinet and Looked After Children’s Council have done a video to talk about their town as they see it now, working with national charity Fixers.

Youth Cabinet Member Emilia Ashton, 17, who is studying for her A-Levels at Wath Comprehensive School, said: “We’re young people and we’re proud to be from here and we want to show the reasons why. I also want to show other young people in Rotherham that they can be proud of where they are from – we’re the next generation and we’re happy to be here and make a difference.”

Take part in the survey

Watch the Fixers film