Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
As a Government, we continually strive to hear the opinions of the people we serve to inform the decisions we make. Sometimes it can be challenging to connect with our more marginalised communities and the voters of the future and for this reason, we provide funding to Young Wales, a national and independent participation platform, to enable hundreds of children and young people to participate, to be heard in the workings of Government and to influence our legislation, policies and programmes.
Young Wales works with existing youth groups, youth forums and youth councils to gather their collective voice to influence legislation, policies and programmes. It also works to utilise social media in order to reach children and young people who are marginalised, shy, disadvantaged, unconfident, or secluded, enabling them to also have a voice and participate. Young people decide on the priorities and shape the nature of the work through steering groups made up of cross-sections of young people both from marginalised and mainstream groups.
Since its launch in March 2015, nearly 800 children and young people have been able to express their views directly through face to face consultation and engagement opportunities organised by Young Wales. In addition, the Young Wales website and responses to social media alerts have steadily risen. To date, there have been 216,250 hits on the Young Wales pages and 31,274 on the Cymru Ifanc and this figure is fully expected to continue increasing. Young Wales has made great strides to give a voice to children and young people in Wales. They were proactive in marking the anti-bullying week in November 2015, they have engaged with key agencies in the field of online safety for children, worked with the Live Fear Free campaign on promoting healthy relationships and have raised awareness of mental health and substance misuse issues.
In addition, Young Wales have recently reported to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Wales’ progress in supporting children’s rights as set out in the UNCRC. Their report highlighted their concerns and made recommendations for Welsh Government. This report is invaluable in providing an insight into key issues affecting children and young people in Wales and I wanted to respond fully. I hope our response, available below, will assure our younger generations of our continuing commitment to children’s rights.