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Thursday 1 December 2016

Cheshire East children’s challenges highlight rights campaign


Young people from Cheshire East are giving professionals a taste of ‘life in their shoes’ to mark children’s rights month.

Cheshire East Council and their partners have been taking part in challenges set by young members of Cheshire East Youth Council, a group coordinated by The Children’s Society.

The challenges have been chosen from a range of activities, which include sitting an exam, taking a ‘no car’ challenge and living on £21 a week.

They represent an innovative new approach on the ‘takeover’ activity, which forms part of the annual children’s rights month, organised by The Children’s Society. It is an initiative of the Cheshire East participation network – a partnership of agencies and services which work with children.

The month highlights the importance of the rights of children and young people, encouraging them to express their views and be actively involved in decisions that affect their lives.

The ‘Takeover Takeaway’ activities flip on its head the month’s usual concept of giving young people experience of jobs done by professionals in local organisations.

Nigel Moorhouse, Cheshire East Council’s Director of children’s social care, said: “It’s traditional to allow children to shadow adults in their daily working lives to give them a taste of what they might expect later in life and Cheshire East provides many opportunities for young people to do this.

“However, this year we’ve taken a different approach. By having a go at some of these challenges, we are hopefully making a real connection. The challenges are certainly not easy!

“I’m taking the £21 challenge, which is a unique way to show the difficulties that our young care leavers face. It’s really tough to manage on £3 a day.

I’ve been learning new recipes and embracing the task. I’m using the Easy Pleasy Cookbook to help me along the way which has been designed by our care leavers. It features recipes and top tips for eating healthily on a budget.”

“I have a lot of respect for all those young people in Cheshire East who do this every day.”

Among those taking part in challenges were Cheshire East children’s services colleagues Lesley Seal and Jacquie Sims who sat GCSE exam papers in English and maths respectively. Ian Donegani experienced what it is like to be bullied online.

Molly Humphries, 16, who is a member of the UK Youth Parliament, said: “It’s great to see some of the adults taking on these challenges. Our idea was to create a ‘Takeaway Menu’ full of experiences, that cost nothing but help adults to better understand and help young people in Cheshire East.”

Amanda Greenwood, participation service manager at The Children’s Society, said: “We help some really vulnerable children all over the country who have had a difficult upbringing and may not enjoy rights most people would expect to apply to all young people in the UK.

“We are passionate about ensuring all children and young people have a say in their lives and the services that affect and support them.

“We work with some fantastic young people in Cheshire East and it is great to see their engagement with our participation services. These have definitely come to fruition during November Children’s Rights Month and helped to raise awareness of this important issue.”

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