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Centre focuses on child rights and poverty

30 September 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation is re-launched

Pic: Dr Sharon Bessell Distinguished Visiting Scholar

Young people, academics and practitioners have gathered at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to discuss children’s rights and child poverty at the re-launch of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation.

Dr Sharon Bessell, Director of the Children's Policy Centre and Senior Lecturer at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University, spoke on ‘Advancing the Human Rights of Children: The Australian Experience’ in a public lecture to mark the event.

She distinguished between the ‘legal consciousness’ and ‘social consciousness’ of children’s rights, and showed how legal consciousness had made some progress in recent years but that social consciousness lagged far behind, partly because of the failure to have a broad public debate when Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The lecture was followed by a presentation from a group of young disabled people who have recently completed a study of child poverty and children’s rights for the Children’s Commissioner for England as well as producing a video with the help of Soundskills of Brookfield.

Professor of Childhood and Youth Research Nigel Thomas is the co-director and founder of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation at UCLan.

“The Centre is a great opportunity and resource that can help support children and young people’s involvement in research across the region and beyond.”

Speaking at the event he said: “The Centre is a great opportunity and resource that can help support children and young people’s involvement in research across the region and beyond. It is fantastic for us to be able to host seminars and lectures from distinguished academics such as Sharon Bessell, to enable us to share thinking and promote debate around children and young people’s involvement in research.

“As part of the conference we held a quiz in which the young people were asked questions from the audience and a panel of adult experts were challenged to guess what the young people would answer. They got quite a few wrong – showing that we can’t assume we know what young people think, we have to ask them.”

Sharon Bessell is in Preston for two weeks as guest of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation. She is delivering two seminars, advising research students, and working on collaborative projects with Professor Nigel Thomas and colleagues.
The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation at UCLan aims to create opportunities for children and young people to plan, lead and undertake research on issues that are important to them and build links between academics, policymakers, practitioners and children and young people, locally, nationally and internationally.

Left to right: Dan Moxon (Associate Director of The Centre), Lorna Burrow (Research and Knowledge Transfer Administrator), Dr Nigel Thomas (Professor of Childhood and Youth Research and Co-Director of The Centre), Dr Joanne Westwood (Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of The Centre), Dr Sharon Bessell (Distinguished Visiting Scholar), Professor Aidan Worsley (Dean of School of Social Work), Dr Cath Larkins (Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of The Centre).