National Children's Bureau, Young NCB

Emma RatcliffeParticipation Works interviewed Emma, 13, who is a Young NCB member.

Tell me about yourself?
I am 13 years old and live in South Manchester. I have one younger brother. I enjoy reading, meeting my friends and keeping up with issues affecting young people.

Why did you decide to become a member of Young NCB and how long have you been a member?
I’ve been a member for three years now, I first joined because I wanted to influence decisions that are made on children’s rights and also because I thought it would be an interesting experience meeting young people from such different backgrounds from all over the country.

What type of activities have you been involved in as a member of Young NCB?
I have been involved with the portrayal of young people in the media. I wrote an article on this that was used in a national magazine, as I was tired of seeing young people portrayed as chavs and thugs.

I have also been involved with the NCB’s work in promoting the importance of putting Citizenship as standard on the National Curriculum. I feel that all young people should have the opportunity to study Citizenship as it is becoming increasingly important to be tolerant of others different to ourselves in today’s multi-cultural Britain. I was especially thrilled to be able to put my point of view direct to Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, and I am proud that the ideas that I and others from the Young NCB put forward that day are now being taken on board at a national level.

What do you feel you have gained from your experiences of being involved in Young NCB?
I have gained a lot of confidence since joining the Young NCB and now feel less nervous when talking in front of lots of people. I have also gained a higher understanding of children’s rights and how they work.

Do you feel that being a member of Young NCB has helped you to influence decision-making that affects the lives of children and young people?
Definitely. I saw this personally, close-up when I and others were able to meet Ed Balls and Jim Knight, who was responsible for schools. They asked tough questions, but took our views on board – a perfect example of the NCB putting forward young people’s views direct to ministers!

What do you think are the most important things that adults can do to help children and young people have their say on matters that are important to them?
The best thing that adults can do is to listen to children with ideas instead of just ignoring them because they are younger. There is probably some way to go yet, though with the NCB helping to provide young people with a strong voice, there is a clear way forward and the NCB now has a growing track record of success.

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB