TANISHA GUPTA, MAYOR’S OFFICE INTERN
Today marks a special anniversary for our city because we are celebrating one year since the launch of the Bristol Children’s Charter. Since that bright, blissful Bristol Playday on College Green last year when the charter was first announced, the city of Bristol has united to prioritise the rights and needs of all of its children and young people.
The Bristol Children’s Charter is an unabashedly aspirational commitment to our city’s future. We want each child to have the resources and opportunities necessary to make a positive impact in this world. That means we need to ensure each child’s basic rights are met. We are committed to ending child poverty and hunger, and are ambitiously working to ensure children live healthy lives with high-quality nutrition, access to wellbeing facilities and services, and safety from all forms of violence and abuse. We aim to provide children with access to clean and safe homes and neighbourhoods in a city with sustainable, affordable, and connected infrastructure that allows them to benefit from Bristol being a leading cultural, social, and sporting city. We pledge all children will have access to a quality education that develops their potential so they have skills for life and for decent, productive work.
But we want to do more than just provide children and young people with basic necessities. In fact, we must do more if we truly want to set them up for success. That is why we pledge to guarantee children have the skills to thrive in an ever-changing digital world and have the opportunity to learn about and participate in the global community. It is why we ensure children have the opportunity to influence leaders and contribute to the city they live in, and in return ensure the city supports not only children but parents, carers, and families as well. And that is why we make these pledges to all children and young people, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities, or any other status, so as to protect and provide for the most vulnerable people to reduce the inequalities that exist.
In the past year, we have made significant progress towards achieving our goals. We have had a five-fold increase in the number of organisations signing on to the Children’s Charter; currently, 100 organisations from education, sport, housing, the voluntary sector, social care, childcare, health, environment, nutrition, public safety, law, and business sectors have committed to the pledges of the charter. More organisations are expected to sign on in the coming months.
We have also passed policies in Bristol City Council relating to children and young people’s education, homelessness, safety, health and wellbeing, and special education needs and disability (SEND) provisions to guarantee we are making progress towards delivering our goals. Many other policies relavent to the charter are being considered as I write.
We have hosted two successful Children’s Charter events, established our presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and launched this blog as our main channel for information on the charter and our work. Thanks to all of this work done by the city to prioritise children and young people, the Local Government Association (LGA) Labour Group named the Bristol Children’s Charter as the first innovation in its list of “100 More Innovations by Labour in Power”.
So what’s next? We have just gotten started; while we made respectable progress this past year, there is plenty that we still need to do.
We must continue to strive to make our city’s future better than its present, and to do so we must continue to listen to and provide for our young people. At the heart of this work lies the distinct recognition that local government alone cannot accomplish the hefty feats put forth in the Children’s Charter; the city as a whole must come together to work towards a brighter future.
For this reason, on our one-year anniversary we are launching an “Offers and Asks” section on this blog to facilitate communication between signatories and encourage broader cooperation on charter pledges. Each signatory of the Bristol Children’s Charter joins a larger consortium of organisations in the city that are working together to prioritise the rights and best interests of all children and young people. Our new “Offers and Asks” page will enable you all to reach out to each other for advice and help, share best practices, and collaborate on campaigns and events in the future.
On a more personal note, the one-year anniversary of the Children’s Charter brings to close an important chapter in my life, as my internship in the Mayor’s Office is finishing tomorrow. For the past few months, I have lived and breathed the Bristol Children’s Charter, devoting my time to working for children and young people in the city. I am in awe of the palpable passion of the charter’s signatories and salute this city’s ability to unite people together for a greater cause. Though I am not a native Bristolian myself, I at times feel more connected to this magnificent city than I do to my own.
So this one-year anniversary celebration is a collective one; I thank each and every one of you for the role you have played in getting the charter to where it is today, and the role you will play in supporting the charter in the future. This is just the beginning, and I look forward to the development of the Bristol Children’s Charter going forward.