A boy's hand thrust forward towards the camera

The child's lived experience

Every conversation starts with the child.

We commit that all partners across the city support children and young people to understand their rights, to have a voice and to realise their rights.

When we refer to children’s rights we mean so in relation to the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This relates to all principles set out by the UNCRC, with a focus on the 4 general principles of:

  • non-discrimination (article 2)
  • best interest of the child (article 3)
  • right to life survival and development (article 6)
  • right to be heard (article 12)

Article 12 sets out children and young people’s right to express their views and opinions about decisions that affect them and for those views to be taken into account.

The partnership supports this strategic ambition by offering a range of different options to be engaged and involved.

The Voice Champions contact is Niall McVicar, Head of Innovation and Children's Champion, City of York Council, email: [email protected].

We've made a number of changes in response to feedback received.

Support with housing

Care experienced young people shared with the Corporate Parenting Board their views on support with housing. Young people shared their experiences and made a number of suggestions for how things could be improved.

Through the Corporate Parenting Board the Housing Team worked with Corporate Parenting Advisors to develop a Housing Protocol for care experienced young people. This made some changes to respond to what young people said and draw together support into a single protocol. In addition Corporate Parenting Advisors provided training to staff within the Housing Team to help them understand more about their role as a Corporate Parent.

Cost of living crisis

Care experienced young people shared with the Corporate Parenting Board how the current cost of living crisis is impacting on them and some of the challenges they are facing. Young people made a number of suggestions for different support that could help.

In the short term we are adapting information for young people about the range of different schemes and support that are available. In addition, we have created a cost of living fund for care experienced young people. This was launched in March 2023 and will provide care experienced young people with some additional support on key necessities. We are also ensuring that any future support from the council’s reflects our responsibilities as a corporate parent.

Sexual health services

YorSexual Health carried out a survey of young people who are using the York and North Yorkshire sexual health services. The young people who completed the survey told services that they were unaware of where to look for information about sexual health services.

All feedback from the survey was incorporated into a redesign of the YorSexual Health website, and website links shared with young persons groups for design feedback.

We undertook a review of services and opening times and re-instated a young persons walk-in clinic in Monkgate, York, every Tuesday evening.

We developed a social media campaign to advertise the walk-in clinics on Twitter and Instagram:

We sent posters to every high school and GP service in York advertising the services provided as well as the young persons walk-in clinic.

Hospital waiting rooms

Access4all told us that the experience of hospital waiting rooms left young people feeling nervous, bored, and sometimes scared. It was shared that without positive distractions in the waiting rooms, waiting for an appointment can be boring. Additionally, they highlighted how delays beyond scheduled appointment times can lead to anxiety, particularly in A&E where witnessing individuals with visibly severe injuries can be distressing.

The matron in charge of children’s services at York Hospital is coming to talk to the group, to feedback and work in partnership with the young people to decide how we make these things better for young people.

Public transport

Access4All told us that getting public transport can be overwhelming for young people with additional needs. Getting the correct money out can be confusing, bus drivers not allowing time for this to take place can be frustrating and not knowing where to get off can be scary and the unknown is frightening.

The young people have created a poster to bus drivers with their top tips to support young people with additional needs on buses.

Access4All met with Maxine Squire, the Assistant Director for Children’s Services. They shared their feedback and the poster - Maxine felt that she could support by sharing the posters with bus companies in York via a City of York Council Connection.

In addition, Maxine felt that creating a poster for taxi drivers would be really helpful. She will support the group in sharing this with big taxi companies in York.

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Many of our partners who work with children and young people undertake valuable work to engage and consult with them, and use what children and young people tell them to make changes to their policies and practices.

We would like to share key messages that children and young people report to these partners, and to allow these messages to be considered, listened to and acted on by all our partners.

If you have any messages from children and young people you would like to add to the newsletter, please contact us on email: [email protected].

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Strengthening safeguarding through rights-based practice.

Working Together to Safeguard Children promotes a child centred approach to safeguarding, and is clear that practitioners should keep the child in focus when making decisions about their lives and work in partnership with them and their families. Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child; listen to what they say; take their views seriously; and work with them and their families collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs.

The CYSCP has developed a Children’s Rights and Involvement Strategy, which outlines involvement opportunities for everyone involved with safeguarding children in the City of York, plus the approach they use to involve and engage children and young people.

Everyone in York has a responsibility to support children and young people to realise their rights and to be heard.

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This practice guidance and accompanying tool have been developed by the CYSCP in response to multi-agency audits and reports identifying an absence of the voice of the pre-verbal child. Acknowledgment of, and insight into, the lived experience of children provides essential understanding that is required to safeguard, promote positive infant mental health, and realises the human rights of infants and very young children.

It is appreciated that practitioners cannot ask an infant about their lives or decisions that affect them however they can learn to observe and look within themselves for the voice of the child and to describe it in their own words.

Knowledge or expertise in early year’s child development is not a requirement to develop these skills but practitioners must recognise that infancy and young childhood requires recognition as life stages and are not simply transitional phases.

It is suggested that this tool and guidance can be used to support direct observation of children, record keeping, report writing, personal reflection, reflective discussions, and professional supervision.

The following resources have been developed:

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The Voice Network is a collaboration between multi-agency partners that work across the city to engage and involve children and young people.

Each member of the network work independently and engages children and young people of different ages, interests and from different communities (geographical and identity).

The relationship in the network is one of mutual support - sharing best practice, resources and collaborating on projects. The network also works together to enable direct routes for young people to have their voices heard across the city and reach key strategic forums and decision makers.

Show Me That I Matter

Children in Care Council includes care experienced young people aged 11 to 16.

The Island - Community Group

Supporting some of the most disadvantaged, vulnerable and isolated children and young people to realise their potential through positive mentoring, relationships and activities.

Speak Up Youth

A youth club for any young person in care aged 11 to 16 (or up to 19 with disabilities or additional needs).

Young people can get involved in games, arts, crafts, sports and occasional workshops.

CAMHS - Participation Group

The group involves current and ex-users of CAMHS to talk about the service and how it could be improved.

Moor Lane Youth Club - 'Cops vs Kids'

Helping improve police engagement with children and young people, 'Cops vs Kids' aims to build positive bridges with the youngsters, as well as seeking support from their parents and guardians.

MySight York

MySight York is a thriving independent charity supporting local people to live well with sight loss. They run events for families and young people.

York's Youth Council

Youth Council including young people aged 11 to 18.

Snappy - Community Group

A small charity, based in York, dedicated to maximising the personal development of children and young people with wide ranging disabilities.

York Inspirational Kids

A support group for parent carers of children and young people who have a disability and/or additional need and live in the York area.

York Inspirational Kids Post 16 Group

A youth group for children and young people aged 16 or over with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities.

68 Youth Club

68 Youth and Community Centre York is a youth centre serving the local area. They are experienced in providing youth activities and services for young people.


A strategic group for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities. The group aim to support the constant improvement of SEND services.

Door 84 - Community Group

Door 84 is a registered charity and one of the leading providers of services to Children, Young people in York and the surrounding areas. Their vision is to empower service users to achieve their potential and lead happy, safe and fulfilled lives.

Lollipop - Community Group

Lollipop offers opportunities for children and young people aged 0 to 25 years of age, with any degree of deafness from mild to profound and their families to meet and build friendships with others, with whom they share their experiences of deafness.


Choose2Youth provides support for young people with disabilities across York and North Yorkshire, by creating a full programme of opportunities for personal and social development.

Refugee Action York

This youth club is run in association with RAY (Refugee Action York) for ages 11 to 19 years.

This club is for refugees, first generational teens with dual heritage, or those with asylum seeker status.

Club Wilber

Club Wilber provides a supportive environment and an opportunity to get together for families living with Vision Impairment in the Yorkshire area.

Young Carers Revolution

A group of young carers and young adult carers aged 5 to 25 who explore and tackle the issues effecting their lives.

YCR aim to work with decision makers, professionals and the wider public to raise awareness, challenge stigma and effect change.

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CYSCP - Voice of the Child Pledge

Traditionally, children have had a fairly passive role in safeguarding. Training and practice is largely formed by what adults think children need to be kept safe.

When children know their rights, and have experienced adults upholding their rights, they are more likely to identify and speak to someone about rights violations.

The CYSCP have developed a Voice of the Child Pledge to embed children’s rights into their work and develop rights-based practice across the City of York. The Pledge was developed for use by the CYSCP and for its partners within meetings to ensure that all of us are committed to understanding the lived experience of children and young people. It focuses on realising human rights with a strong emphasis on the rights of the child as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children’s Rights and Involvement Strategy

We commit that all partners across the city support children and young people to understand their rights, to have a voice and to realise their rights.

When we refer to children’s rights we mean so in relation to the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child.

Together with Young People Podcast

Together With Young People have developed a series of podcasts, giving young people a platform to question the systems that effect their lives. Topics include Politics, Education, Criminal Justice, The Care System, Employment and Mental Health.

For more information you can visit the Together with Young People website.

Access Season 1 of the podcast: Together with Young People Podcast.

Child Protection Conference - Information for Children and Young People

York's Children's Rights and Advocacy Service Speak Up, have produced a leaflet about Child Protection Conferences for Children and Young People.

This resource is specially designed for Social Workers to share with children and young people before they attend a Child Protection Conference.

Model of Joint Partnership Working

The York's Model of Joint Partnership Working (Co-Production) guidance and Audit Framework for Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities Services in York is for all services who work with children, young people aged 0 to 25 and their families across the City of York.

The guidance should be used across the system when working with individual children, young people and their families in the development of their education, health and care plans and also when improving, developing or re-commissioning services.

Outcomes Framework

City of York Council and the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership have worked with parents, carers and young people with SEND to produce the Outcomes Framework - a set of outcomes that we all want to achieve for our children and young people.

Save the Children Consultation Toolkit

The Save the Children Consultation Toolkit is a practical guide about how to consult with children and young people on policy related issues. It is written for community workers, youth workers, teachers, local authority workers, facilitators and other organisations and individuals working with children and young people. It is also for children and young people themselves who may be involved or interested in organising a consultation exercise.

MindEd eLearning on participation

The participation and involvement of children, young people and their parents/carers in their care helps improve the quality and outcomes. This participation can and should extend to the design and delivery of services.

Young Minds Participation Toolkit

The Young Minds Participation Toolkit aims to support organisations to increase the participation of children, young people and families who face marginalisation and barriers within the mental health system.

As well as insights into how these barriers impact young people's experience of service and engagement with participation opportunities, this toolkit provides practical tools you can use to make your participation more representative.

Realising Children’s Rights – Co-production toolkit

York has committed to become a Children’s Rights Respecting City. This means we want all children and young people to understand their rights, to have a voice and to realise their rights.

We have developed the Realising Children’s Rights Co-production toolkit for children and services to use together to introduce the concept of children’s rights. The toolkit uses an Appreciative Inquiry approach to agree what you, your service and children and young people will do to realise children’s rights.

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