UNICEF UK today launches a cutting edge partnership with six local authorities to put child rights’ at the heart of public services.

UNICEF UK’s Child Rights Partners project will prioritise the most vulnerable children, including those living in care, living in poverty and young people affected by drug and alcohol misuse.

These children and young people will be encouraged to access and have a say in the design, delivery and evaluation of the services they use.

Over three years, UNICEF UK will pilot the project with Tower Hamlets, Glasgow, Derry, Neath and Port Talbot, Leeds and Newcastle councils.

David Bull, UNICEF UK Executive Director, said: “Child Rights Partners is an exciting new collaboration between UNICEF UK and six local authorities. It is inspired by UNICEF’s commitment – whether we’re working in the UK or internationally – to ensure every child can reach their full potential.

“Public services have sometimes failed children and young people by not listening to their opinions and needs, so we welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with these pioneering local authorities.

“They have committed, in economically difficult times, to take a hard transformative look at the services they deliver to the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people. By putting child rights into public services in a tangible way, we hope to show we can radically change practice - and therefore outcomes - for the UK’s children and young people.”

UNICEF UK believes services for children must be prioritised when austerity measures bite. Rights-based services respond to young people’s needs so they are a more intelligent way of spending increasingly limited funds. And by giving them a major role in services, young people are more likely to hold their local authorities to account.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Tower Hamlets is a richly diverse borough with one of the fastest-growing populations in the country. Against such a challenging backdrop, the rights of children are particularly important to us and our partners. We are proud to be involved with UNICEF in this project, which we hope will lead to a step-change in how children are treated by public organisations in this country.

“We are convinced that adopting a rights focus towards children will help us to achieve better outcomes, improve lives and get even better value for money. We look forward to being part of this groundbreaking project which will make a real difference to the lives of young people.”



Notes for editors: 

Child Rights Partners will be launched at a panel discussion and Q+A entitled ‘Putting child rights into practice’ at the House of Commons on Wednesday November 20th.


For more information please contact: Alice Klein, UNICEF UK Media Relations, Email: alicek@unicef.org.uk / Tel: +44(0)020 7375 6030

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, working in over 190 countries to help every child realise their full potential. We work with partners to transform the lives of children everywhere. UNICEF provides health care, water, nutrition, education and protection for children. The most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are our priority. As champion of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we work to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit unicef.org.uk  


Tower Hamlets (Child population: 62,000, Child Poverty rate: 42%) will focus on developing a child rights-based approach to commissioning services, piloting this approach with substance misuse services for young people.

What will this mean for CYP? Young people will be able to access services which have been co-designed by them, young people will have a greater say over their treatment, practitioners will have stronger relationships with young people and will be better able to refer young people to other support services leading to reductions in the cycle of addiction and therefore the rates of young people re-entering treatment.


Derry (Child population: 109,800, Child poverty rate: 35%) will focus on Arts, Sports and Positive Play, targeting children and young people from economically and socially deprived areas.

What will this mean for children and young people? Marginalised children and young people from across the divide will co-design play and youth facilities and activities, having a strong voice in the development of the built environment of their neighbourhoods.


Glasgow (Child population: 98,116, Child poverty rate: 33%) will focus on two service areas: developing a rights-based approach to services for care-leavers and early years.

What will this mean for children and young people? Young people leaving care are better equipped, supported and have the lead voice in planning their own futures.  Young children in ‘just coping’ families are at the centre of services designed to support their development. Children and families living in difficult circumstances are regarded as capable, not ‘troubled’ and are actively involved in the direction and delivery of their support services and a greater stake in their communities.


Leeds (Child population: 179,00, Child Poverty rate: 22%) will focus on improving service provision for looked after children, ensuring that their entire journey through the social care system is rights-based

What will this mean for children and young people? Children and young people will know and understand their rights and have a leading voice in key decisions about who they live with and where they live. Families will be supported to make collective decisions with social workers in the best interests of the child.


Neath and Port Talbot (Child population: 25,164, Child poverty rate: 24%) will focus on vulnerable families where the parents have drugs and alcohol, domestic violence and mental health issues.

What will this mean for children and young people? Support services for vulnerable families will centre on the child within the family not the family first, ensuring that the child’s voice is not missed or an after-thought and that child well-being, resilience and coping are a central aim of support and intervention.


Newcastle (Child population: 61,002, Child poverty rate: 33%) will adopt a rights-based approach to child poverty alleviation, taking a multi-dimensional approach to measuring and identifying poverty and looking for new ways to mitigate the impact on children and young people’s life chances.

What will this mean for children and young people?

Children and young people will be involved in defining poverty according to how it impacts their daily lives compared to peers.  The council will pledge to mitigate these impacts by providing key, child-defined opportunities and experiences through the life-course.