Nottingham has taken the first step on a journey working with children’s charity UNICEF UK towards international recognition as a Child Friendly City.  

The ambitious three-to-five-year partnership, made possible by funding from the National Lottery Community Fund Small Steps Big Changes (SSBC) programme, will see councillors, council staff and local organisations ensure that children and young people help shape and guide decisions which affect them.

As set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, local children will have their views heard and taken seriously. They will have a say in Council decisions – from major policies to the care they receive – as well as the opportunity to help design services and spaces.

This will be achieved through an advisory group where children and young people will represent their peers and meet regularly with Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Schools.

In practice, being recognised as a UNICEF UK Child Friendly City means that the rights of children become an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions.

These could be Council plans or the activities of other city stakeholders such as civil society organisations, the private sector, academia and the media.

To enable this discussion to happen, children and young people are being asked which areas, or ‘badges’, they think should be prioritised. The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) has three mandatory badges – Communication, Co-operation and Leadership, and Culture. A further three will be picked from:

  • Safe and Secure
  • Flourishing
  • Education and Learning
  • Participating
  • Innovation
  • Child-Friendly Services
  • Equal and Included
  • Healthy
  • Family and Belonging
  • Place

Conversations have started already and will continue over the next few months. This is taking place through survey and consultation events in schools, colleges, youth clubs, plus working with parents and carers to gather the voices of under-fives.

Councillor Barnard said: “We’re so lucky to have fantastic children and young people in Nottingham and we want to hear their thoughts about how they want their city to be shaped, both now and into the future.

“For a number of years now we’ve had wonderful engagement through groups like the Youth Cabinet and the Children in Care Council, as well as through our termly Primary Parliament sessions. This project is about widening the reach so we can hear from even more young people.

“It’s really important that they feel part of the process as the Council and its partners make the decisions which will impact on them over the coming years.”

The Council will need to show evidence of sustainable progress within the six badges to be recognised as a UNICEF UK Child Friendly City.

This will be closely monitored by an independent panel of experts in human rights, child wellbeing and public services, as well as an advisory board of local children and young people.

If recognised as a UNICEF UK Child Friendly City, Nottingham will join cities and communities in close to 50 countries taking part in this global programme.   

Naomi Danquah, Child Friendly Cities and Communities Programme Director at UNICEF UK said: “We are delighted to welcome Nottingham City Council to the programme.

“This partnership represents a bold commitment from the authority and partners to put children’s rights at the heart of everything they do – from early conversations around spaces and services in Nottingham, to the day-to-day running of those services. 

“We’re excited to see this partnership make a real and lasting difference to children’s lives in Nottingham.”

Karla Capstick, SSBC Programme Director, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Nottingham City Council and UNICEF UK to support Nottingham’s journey towards becoming a Child-Friendly City.

“This is an exciting initiative that will make a real difference to children and young people and is a key part of the SSBC legacy that will embed co-production and participation through rights-based practice across the city.”

Anyone interested in more information about the project can visit the website here or contact Eky Ghansah, Nottingham’s Child-Friendly City Lead at