Children’s project awarded Big Lottery Fund Boost

Researchers at Swansea and Bangor Universities have been awarded almost £247,000 from the Big Lottery Fund for their project Little Voices Being Heard.

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Little Voices Being Heard is a project run by the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People, based at Swansea and Bangor Universities.

This welcome additional grant from the Big Lottery Fund will support the next phase in the development of the overarching exciting child rights research initiative, Lleisiau Bach Little Voices.

Lleisiau Bach/Little Voices supports the under-12s to understand human rights of children and young people, to choose issues they want to research, to select research methods, carry out the research, to reach conclusions based on evidence and then to promote the changes they want to see.

The Lleisiau Bach/Little Voices child and youth research and engagement initiative emerged from work started at Funky Dragon. Its work transferred to Swansea University in 2014 when Funky Dragon lost its core funding.

One of the successes which Lleisiau Bac/Little Voices has delivered since its instigation is the outcomes of the Lleisiau Bach yn Galw Allan/Little Voices Shouting Out' report.  This was the first ever child-led research report from children under 11 to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. The impact of their work can be seen in the Committee’s 2016 recommendations to the UK and Welsh Governments, including public health issues such as smoking around children’s play spaces and on education and training about children’s rights.  In addition to this international impact, Little Voices’ local research projects have resulted in positive change from small adjustments within schools, from play and the physical environment to potentially far-reaching changes in policy and practice, delivering 72 local child-led, human rights-based research projects over a three year period. 

Research assistants Helen Dale from Swansea University and Arwyn Roberts from Bangor University worked closely with schools across Wales to prepare the report under the directorship of  Associate Professor Jane Williams, Co-Director of the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People, which is based within Swansea University’s College of Law and Criminology.

The new project, which will be supported with this further grant, is the Little Voices Being Heard project. It places emphasis on impact and influence on decision-making, and extends the methodology from children as researchers to age-inclusive, co-productive research and community action. It will support adults and children to engage together to develop evidence –based proposals impacting at the appropriate level and influencing the relevant power-brokers. It also extends the age range of children who can be involved and makes special provision to work with particularly excluded groups like disabled children and those at risk of poor mental health and well-being or educational outcomes.

The Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People has also been working with the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales to establish a new Wales Youth Parliament. It is anticipated that the first Wales Youth Parliament will be convened in 2018. Little Voices Being Heard will connect with the Youth Parliament to build pathways for extensive engagement with children.  

Professor Elwen Evans QC, Head of the College of Law and Criminology, Swansea University, said:

“ We are delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has recognised the importance of this project by awarding this further grant. This is very significant because it reflects their recognition that we are growing something really special in Wales, enabling us to put down roots in higher education and research with real benefit to local communities and government decision-making at different levels as well as to children who participate in the research.”

Boy with UN T-shirt

The Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People, is a collaborative project with international, national and local partners. It provides a forum for research, debate, education and knowledge exchange on human rights of children and young people, working for realisation of human rights through policy, practice, advocacy and law reform. 

Launched at the Taking the Rights Steps Conference at Swansea University in 2012, the Observatory is committed to: Developing capacity to help children and young people access their rightsWorking with and learning from children and young people, respecting their "right to be properly researched"Conducting research, data analysis and evaluative studiesIdentifying and advocating for change in law and practice to give practical effect to the rights of children and young peopleHarnessing the best in knowledge and innovation to support implementation of children and young people’s human rightsWorking with international, national and local partners in academic institutions, professions, government and non-governmental organisations The Children’s Legal Centre is a Wales-wide, bilingual service providing information and access to legal advice and representation for children and young people, contributing anonymised data and insights derived from service provision to the Observatory’s bank of research evidence, and advocating for reform in  law,  policy and practice. This project is Paul Hamlyn-funded and will be launched in August 2017.