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Talented Young People Debate the Future

Young residents who took part in a debate on the United Nations’ Children’s Rights Convention (UNCRC) not only excelled themselves, but will help put in place plans for the future.

Pupils from schools and young peoples’ support organisations across RCT debated in the Council Chamber last week in an event chaired by Cllr Geraint Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Childrens’ Social Services and Equalities and Childrens’ Champion.

It was such a success, the informed and compelling arguments will be used to inform future work and commitments in Rhondda Cynon Taf to make children’s rights and welfare at the heart of multi-agency work in the future.

It was attended by the Children’s Commissioner Professor Sally Holland, the Welsh Government, the National  Assembly, Gio Isingrini, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Service Director for Children and Community Services and Interlink.

The event, entitled: “The UNCRC is still fit for purpose”, saw pupils from Y Pant School and YG Cymer debate for and against the motion respectively. After informed and compelling arguments, which were researched and presented by the pupils themselves, the house voted and agreed the UNCRC is fit for purpose.

Pupils from Penyrenglyn Primary, Tonypandy Community College and Tonyrefail Comprehensive School also joined the debate, as well as representatives from looked-after children, Voice from Care, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’ Young Carers’ Support project and  Youth Engagement and Participation Service.

The event went so well, more are planned and the issues debated in the chamber will now be used to inform multi-agency work and engagement with children and young people in the future.

Cllr Geraint Hopkins, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Services and Equality and the Council’s Children’s Champion, said: “When I took up my portfolio, I met with partner agencies that are working with the Council to identify the needs of children and young people to see how we could take this work forward and ensure children’s rights and welfare are a focus in all of our work.

“We came up with the idea of a debate and the pupils were outstanding – so committed to the debate and doing all their research, coming up with argument points and getting to understand the UNCRC.

“They raised lots of valid points about the measures in place to protect them and how those measures should reflect modern life, with safety online and on social media a key point for all involved.

“The points raised and issues explored will be used by all partner agencies to explore a more formal way of working in the future to ensure children have a right.

“The event was also important for letting young people know the rights they do have, and how they can expect to be involved in service delivery and decision-making.”