Participation of marginalised children and young people in social action and public decision-making

In the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan, research led by children and young people, Professor Cath Larkins, Professor Nigel Thomas and other members and associates of the university's Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation, has informed and changed public policy regarding children and young people’s rights.

They have helped in the scrutiny of governments by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Through advisory roles to the European Union, Council of Europe, UK Government and International NGOs, the research has guided the development of participatory processes for marginalised children. Young people across Europe have also reported the personal impacts of involvement in the research, building confidence, gaining skills in advocacy and advancing their personal effectiveness. As one young researcher comments: “I've learnt how to talk to people and I've learnt how to talk in front of people … I'm proud of this [research], … I think I'm just a better person because of it … before, I had nothing to think positive about, nothing to aim for.”

Evidence from The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation research was cited in the UK Children’s Commissioner report to the UN and in the Review of Evidence for the 2016 Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child. Evidence about the impact of poverty on the rights of disabled children and the need to include disabled children in policymaking was subsequently highlighted by a UN Committee as rights violations, leading them to call on the UK Government to review and mitigate the impact of welfare reform on disabled children. This demand was echoed in the Council of Europe Strategy for Children’s Rights 2016-2021. Subsequently, disabled children were involved in participatory activities to review this policy and to inform new recommendations in Europe and Japan. Since 2014, the international reach of this research has spread across the UK, Europe, Australia and Japan through 18 externally funded projects attracting more than £2,000,000 in funding.

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Academic expertise

Professor Cath Larkins
School of Health, Social Work and Sport

Prof Cath Larkins innovates in participation, activism and knowledge exchange with children and young people, and their allies, across the UK and Europe. She conducts co-research, particularly with marginalised children and young people which is focused on challenging discriminat…

Professor Nigel Patrick Thomas
Professor Emeritus
School of Health, Social Work and Sport

Patrick’s research embraces child welfare, children’s rights and theories of childhood, with a particular focus on children and young people’s participation. He has researched with children in care, young carers, school pupils and members of youth councils, using a range of innov…