Children’s Champions gather in Edinburgh for summit on impact of austerity

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Children’s Ombudspeople from more than 40 countries are meeting in Edinburgh this week (22-24 October) to discuss the impact of austerity and poverty on children’s lives across Europe.

The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) is holding its Annual Conference and General Assembly in Scotland this year.

The conference brings together key experts in order to share best practice. Delegates will also hear from the Minister for Children, Aileen Campbell MSP [on 22nd October] about the ways in which The Scottish Government is working to improve the lives of children and young people in Scotland.

Films made by 36 young people from eight member states on the theme of austerity and poverty – and how these impact their lives and rights - will be shown in an audio-visual exhibition at Dynamic Earth, alongside the conference before going on tour to other countries.

Young people from Scotland and the rest of the UK will attend the conference to present the audio-visual exhibition to the delegates.

A major theme of the films made by young people is crisis. For example, one film concerns a disabled boy struggling to communicate who feels he is being cruelly silenced by funding cuts to vital speech therapy support. Another is made by a boy from Marseille who believes his ‘city has two faces’: the glamorous one for tourists and the grim reality of deprivation experienced by him and his peers. In Preston, England a girl no longer receives the transport cost to visit her birth family, due to funding cuts, so is unable see them as often as before and misses them. In Italy a boy is forced to sell his treasured guitar, to buy school books.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell said “I want Scotland to be the best place to grow up. The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the root causes of child poverty so our children and young people can reach their full potential.

“It is totally unacceptable that there are children living in poverty in a country as wealthy as Scotland. That is why we are investing £81 million in the next financial year to help mitigate the effects of the UK Government’s welfare reforms which we know impact most on vulnerable communities and families. Our Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland aims to maximise household resources, improve children’s wellbeing and life chances and ensure children from low income households live in well-designed, sustainable places.”

Chair of ENOC, Bernard De Vos – the Belgian Children’s Ombudsman – said “The continuing economic crisis is worsening the impact of poverty on growing numbers of children and families who are already struggling to cope, day to day. Too many children and young people are not enjoying even their basic rights as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and if we’re not more vigilant, the economic crisis may herald the end of the Convention.”

Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People Tam Baillie, is hosting this year’s ENOC Conference and will assume the role of Chair of ENOC from November 2014. He said “It is simply unacceptable that one in five children in Scotland are officially living in poverty and the proportion is increasing. Child poverty blights the lives of our children, deprives them of their basic rights to development and their right to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. I am extremely concerned that cuts in public expenditure will worsen the scale of the problem. I urge the Scottish and UK Governments to consider the best interests of children and young people first, before making cuts to public services that may directly affect their education, health and wellbeing.”

Several young people from BigShoutER, the youth project in East Renfrewshire, were involved in making films to be presented to the conference.

Emma Alford (19) said "My film focuses on education but I wanted to add hope, because all it takes is a small opportunity to unlock potential in anyone."

Jade Bourne, (19) said “In the world we live in today we are so technologically advanced and so well connected yet some people are still forgotten about and left behind, opportunities for young people are being taken away and cut when every young person should be given the chance to reach their full potential not matter what country, religion or background they come from.”
Speaking on behalf of young people from England, Kat Ormerod (age 17) said “I am proud to have been a part of this process and I am very pleased with the films. I’m excited to see where this will lead. Austerity affects us all.”

Sistema Scotland, the charity based in the Raploch (Stirling) and Govanhill (Glasgow) is playing at the conference and children from the Big Noise orchestra will speak to delegates about the positive impact of playing music, has on their lives and the wider community.

The Position Statement on the impact of poverty and austerity on children and young people’s rights expected from the 2014 ENOC General Assembly will be used by Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People to raise awareness of the children’s rights issues with Scottish and UK Governments.

-ENDS-

For further information please contact Giselle Dye at Pagoda PR on 0131 556 0770 or email Giselle.dye@pagodapr.com
Or
Alexandra Curlea at the ENOC Secretariat on Tel +33 3 90 21 54 88: secretariat@ombudsnet.org

NOTES TO EDITOR
1. The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) is a not-for-profit organisation of Independent Human Rights Institutions for Children (IHRIC). ENOC was created in 1997 and it links independent human rights institutions for children from 35 countries, 24 of which are EU countries (43 members institutions in total), in Europe. ENOC is financially supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission. Its aims are:
• to encourage the fullest possible implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the child,
• to support collective lobbying for children’s rights,
• to share information, approaches and strategies,
• and to promote the development of effective independent offices for children worldwide.
2. About Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People: The Commissioner’s remit is to promote and safeguard the rights of children and young people, with particular emphasis on the rights set out in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. He also monitors the law, policy and practice for effectiveness in relation to the rights of children and young people and promotes best practice by service providers working with children.
3. Sistema Scotland is a charity set up in the belief that children can gain huge social benefits by playing in a symphony orchestra. It uses music-making to foster confidence, teamwork, pride and aspiration in the children taking part – and across their wider community. Its first Big Noise orchestra was established in Raploch, Stirling in 2008. A second centre opened in Govanhill, Glasgow in 2013 and a third will open in Torry, Aberdeen in 2015. For further information contact Communications Manager, George Anderson george.anderson@sistemascotland.org.uk or visit http://makeabignoise.org.uk

 

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