Somerset young people speak up at Parliament

For some, a trip to London might involve a spot of shopping, taking in a West End show and travelling by tube. But for three Somerset youngsters, a recent trip to the capital gave them a chance to have their voices heard at Parliament.

Members of the Somerset in Care Council (SiCC) and Leaving Care Council (SLCC), made the journey to the Houses of Parliament on 13 June to meet Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, Edward Timpson MP, Minister of State for Children and Families and Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools. They were part of discussions with children and young people about the Government’s new Children and Social Work Bill.

The meeting helped the young people express their views to national decision makers, something that the SiCC and SLCC have already experienced on a local level, during meetings with Somerset County Councillors.

One of the young people who attended the meeting, Aaron Dyte, who is 21 and an active member of Somerset Leaving Care Council, said: “It was good to get our voices heard at a national level and to speak to the people who make the decisions. It was a really enjoyable day and something I would do again. I’m looking forward to hearing the outcome of this.”

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “Children and young people from Somerset played a brilliant and important role discussing the forthcoming Bill with Ministers this week.  I know their experiences and views were highly valued and will be influential as the Bill goes through Parliament.

“Children’s needs and views can be overlooked by decision makers so helping children to shape policy and legislation development is a real priority for me.”

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “I am so proud of our young people, and this is a great example of why. They have represented the views of children and young people who are growing up in Somerset on a national level. By making their voices heard they will be changing the lives of the future generations who will be affected by the decisions being made today.”

The new Children and Social Work Bill was announced in this year’s Queen’s Speech.