UNICEF UK launched its Child Rights Partners programme in Parliament on Wednesday 14th November, which aims to put child rights at the heart of public services in the United Kingdom. The launch took place with speakers from UNICEF and the UK local authority partners of UNICEF, including Tower Hamlets. I was proud to be representing our borough, and equally proud that we are the only London borough to be partnering with UNICEF in this ground breaking project.
The Executive Director of UNICEF UK, David Bull, praised Tower Hamlets ‘for the great work you are already doing’. We are one of six authorities in the UK that the United Nations body will be partnering with, and I was able to share many of the projects we are already pursuing to put children at the heart of our policy making. These include extending free school meals provision, the restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance, and much else besides. Our schools and our school children continue to perform very well, a fact that was also remarked upon by many of those gathered together.
This is in many ways, a great honour for us in Tower Hamlets. And of course it is important to recognise that not only do we have one of the youngest populations in the country – the average age in the borough is 28 years, but sadly we still have some of the highest incidences of child poverty and overcrowding.
But it was great to meet representatives from the other authorities that will be partnering with UNICEF, including Glasgow, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Derry, Leeds and Port Talbot. It was also good to see that local MPs representing those same areas were present and supportive of their local authorities. Not so our two MPs, Rushanara Ali – a former Shadow Cabinet Member for Overseas Development and Jim Fitzpatrick, who did not manage to make an appearance despite being invited and despite the event taking place in Parliament. It was their loss.
Photo: At the launch with David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK.