Loud and clear
Youngsters across Cambridgeshire have told the county council what the priorities for children and young people over the next three years should be. With their help the Big Plan has been produced. LESLEY INNES finds out what matters most to youngsters. C
Youngsters across Cambridgeshire have told the county council what the priorities for children and young people over the next three years should be. With their help the Big Plan has been produced. LESLEY INNES finds out what matters most to youngsters.
CHILDREN and young people have clear ideas about what they do and don't want. Throughout Cambridgeshire they haven't been afraid to speak up.
Now ideas from these youngsters have been included in a plan for the next three years, which sets out what matters most to them and how to achieve it.
Between now and 2009, Cambridgeshire County Council will take these ideas on board in a bid to improve lives.
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The youngsters have clearly stated that being involved in decision-making, reducing stress, alcohol and drug abuse, transport, and affordable accommodation are real priorities.
They also want confidential, trustworthy services that can offer help and advice, opportunities for leisure and recreation, local jobs, safe environments and supportive, bully-free schools.
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Changing negative attitudes to specific places and groups of people was also a priority.
Their ideas and the results from consultation with private, voluntary and community organisations which have an impact on children and young people have been included in Cambridgeshire's Children and Young People's Plan along with some of the youngsters' artwork and comments.
Cambridgeshire County Council's cabinet member for children and young people's services, Shona Johnstone, said: "Children, young people and their families are at the heart of the partnership and the plan they have produced. What they have told us has been vital in setting out priorities.
"With our partners, we are working to ensure that children and their families receive quicker and more joined up services, close to where they live and go to school, and we look to the Government to support us in delivering this vision."
Almost 2,500 children and more than 650 parents and carers were involved in consultation for the plan along with East Cambridgeshire District Council, the police, primary care trusts, schools and voluntary organisations among others.
Reducing the number of children injured in road accidents and raising youngsters' self-esteem are two of the top priorities set out in the plan.
It also highlights the partnership's commitment to reducing bullying, increasing the number of young people participating in sport and increasing GCSE success among children in care.
One 10-year-old asked about what matters most said: "Supportive and bully-free schools are important because if you're feeling sad and hurt you will have someone to talk to and it would be easier to learn so you will get a good education and a good job."
A 17-year-old said: "We have managed to change people's views of us over the past few years. It makes us feel proud that not all young people are labelled in this village."
One 15-year-old taking part in an Anger Management Group said: "Give us people we trust to talk to. Listen to us when we tell you stuff and ask us what would make us behave better. Don't shout at us and don't blame us just because we have a reputation or we'll never get better."
Cllr Johnstone said that in producing the plan the county council looked at its performance in relation to children and young people and how it could make better use of its limited resources.
n The Big Plan can be downloaded at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/cypp or obtained from Sonia Fresco on 01223 717309 or by email at email@example.com.