About Child Friendly Cities & Communities

What we do

Child Friendly Cities & Communities is a UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) programme that works with councils to put children’s rights into practice.

The programme aims to create cities and communities in the UK where all children – whether they are living in care, using a children’s centre, or simply visiting their local library – have a meaningful say in, and truly benefit from, the local decisions, services and spaces that shape their lives.

We provide training based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and support councils, their partners, and children and young people, as they work together on an ambitious three-to-five-year journey towards international recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City or Community.


Over 900,000 children in the UK are growing up in a city or community taking part in the programme

Why we do it

Councils and their partners – such as the police, health services, community organisations and volunteers – play a huge role in shaping children’s lives through the local services and spaces they provide.

These include services that every child might use – like schools, libraries or leisure centres – through to more targeted services, such as protection from abuse and neglect, accommodation for children who are looked after by the council, or services for children with disabilities.

Children’s experiences of these services have a significant impact on their lives, yet few are run or designed with children’s rights in mind. This means they often fall short of what children need to truly feel safe, heard, cared for and able to flourish.

The situation for children in the UK

At the same time, significant funding cuts to children’s services have left communities struggling to support the rising number of children and young people in need of help. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened child poverty and inequality in the UK.

We believe using children’s rights helps councils to make better and more effective decisions – including how to build back better with and for children and young people.

More than 4,500 youth work jobs have been cut and 760 youth centres have closed since 2010, depriving young people of youth-friendly spaces and putting the most vulnerable at risk. Out of Service, YMCA, 2020 UNICEF/Dawe
A 2017 inquiry into children’s social care found that just 19% of children and young people with a care plan were involved in writing it and only 41% were asked for their views on where they would be living. No Good Options, APPGC, 2017 UNICEF/Panjeta
4 in 5 Directors of Children’s Services say that vulnerable children facing similar problems get different levels of help depending on where they live. Storing up Trouble, APPGC, 2018 UNICEF/Dawe