At the core of The Children’s Commission on Poverty are 15 young people, aged from 11 to 19, who will have a leading role in what the commission says and does over its 18-month journey. What made them get involved? Why are they giving up their free time to do this? And what do they think the commission can achieve? Here is what some of them said.
Writing in Through Young Eyes, the report presented at the launch of The Children’s Commission on Poverty in October, Gulwali from Bolton and, at 19, the oldest in the group, explained that he joined the panel ‘because it’s such a matter of urgency that we do something about this.’
He wrote that ‘the cycle of poverty needs to stop somewhere,’ and that he and the others on the commission wanted to persuade politicians and policy-makers that poverty is a priority. He hoped to ‘create an awareness that children do live in poverty’ and said he wants to ‘bridge the gap between children experiencing poverty and decision makers’.
Yousif, 16 and from north London, spoke at the launch in Parliament and his own contribution to the report reinforced Gulwali’s points, saying that child poverty was ‘not just an issue of statistics and figures’, but one that is ‘very real’ and ‘affects the most helpless in our communities’.
Cyrus, 13, from Northwich said he hopes for ‘a better quality of life for children in poverty so they have a fair chance’ while Zara from the south-east thought they might be able to ‘discover new ways to put a stop to child poverty everywhere’.
All the young people were clear that it was not just them that needed to be heard, but all young people who are or have been in poverty. ‘I have experienced some aspects of poverty,’ said Luke, 16, from Littleborough, ‘Now I want to help other children and young people have a voice so that the government and services can be improved.’ And Olli, 16, from Winsford, commented that: ‘I have had enough problems of my own to understand others’.
While the leading concerns were about how their efforts could give other young people a voice, there was also recognition that being involved at the front line of this important project would help them as individuals too.
Sasha, 14, from London, said: ‘I also want to be on the commission because it will teach me new skills’. At the launch, she and many of the others were busy behind the scenes writing live blogs, taking pictures for the web and talking to MPs about the commission.
This is a diverse group of young people with the same range of interests as any group their age, including music and sport. What they also share, though, is a determination that the voices of children and young people in poverty must be heard.
Please follow the young commissioners on their journey to hear what they uncover and see life through young eyes
What you can do
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