By James Black
On Tuesday afternoon members of The Children’s Council took part in a protest against the possible closure of their project at Town Hall Square. The Children’s Council is a forum that gives young people 7-13 from communities across Leicester the opportunity to discuss and gain an understanding of issues which are of concern to them.
Tina Barton Wot Box Participation said ‘as with so many groups and organisations that work with young people across the Leicester the future of the Children’s Council was very uncertain. Hearing about the axing of vital services such as the Contact Project made us very anxious. We didn’t have any kind of conformation or evidence from the City Council that the future of the Children’s Council was secure.’
When the organisers informed the youngster’s that there group could be axed as part of Leicester City Council’s spending cuts the children decided the best course of action would be to stage a protest. The children picketed outside the Town Hall for 30 minutes whilst a meeting of the Children & Young People’s Scrutiny Committee took place where they shouted ‘Save our Children’s Council!’ and waved banners which they themselves had created.
Alan Curtis, one of the Children’s Council Managers said “What these young people have achieved over the last 18 months has been incredible. The Children’s Council is all about empowering young people and this protest is an example of this. It was entirely the children’s idea this is exactly what the phrase meaningful participation is all about not adults telling young people what to do but us working with them to help them achieve their goals.”
One of the protesters Na-keisha Pebody said of the protest “It went well. We made a lot of noise but that was the whole point to get our views across.”
As a result of the protest assurances have been made that the Children’s Council will continue but whether it will have the same level of funding remains unclear.
Fellow protestor Sara Zamakada said “the City Council didn’t have the decency to tell us what the situation was whether or not The Children’s Council still had funding. We were kept in the dark and didn’t have a clue what was going on.”
Young people pointed out that ‘this whole episode exposed the lack of communication received by projects and organisations from the City Council and how poor the decision making process has been. Meaningful participation means involving us in decisions that affect us and communication is a key part of that.