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Re-designing the welfare state with young people at its heart

In October 2019, Children England, Leaders Unlocked and 26 young people passionate about the welfare state gathered for the first time to start the youth-led ChildFair State Inquiry.

Their aim was to re-design the welfare state with children and young people’s needs at its heart.

Children England supported the young people to design and conduct their own research into children and young people’s experience of state provisions such as schools, hospitals and benefits. The charity then helped them build a vision for how these support systems could be improved to respond better to what children and young people had told us they want.

The arrival of the pandemic and lockdown in March 2020, just after our Young Leaders had started their research, changed the plans somewhat, but it didn’t stop the Young Leaders from completing their inquiry. In fact, they felt it was more important and urgent than ever.

sittin people beside table inside room

Lauren, one of the Young Leaders, said: ‘Through the universal nature of this virus it is putting a strain on all our institutions and testing our country. However, through this, it is highlighting what a society needs to function.

‘Namely a strong universal healthcare system, strong communities to support those in need, strong social institutions such as schools which can adapt their support through challenging times. A lot of people are comparing our situation to the war and out of the war came Beveridge’s welfare state.

‘An example of the shift that this is already causing is the PM promising people 80% of their income up to a cap which is a clear move to Universal Basic Income.

‘Basically, we should use the time to come with a clear vision for when we are out the other side because I think that would be the perfect time for implementation.’

The Young Leaders have completed their research, analysed their findings and proposed new values and ways of organising services that respond to children and young people’s needs.

But it’s not over yet. Children England is continuing to work with them on what their ideas mean for individual services and areas, and how we can share and develop their ideas with all the other people who are interested in improving the welfare state.

Photo Credit – Annie Spratt

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