The BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival took place at the Sage, Gatehead recently, the theme of the weekend was the Family in the 21st Century. Children North East's own Head of Fatherwork Roger Olley was a panelist in a discussion on the question: 'Is there a future for men?' which will be broadcast on the BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves programme on 3rd December 2009.
The opening lecture was given by Professor Tanya Byron, you can listen to it as a podcast here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00nh4n8 She spoke passionately about the urgent need to address discrimination against our children and young people asking, how is it that the UK has come to fear and distrust its own children and young people?
This month sees the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UK adopted the Convention (which is legally binding on member states) in April 1990. Every few years the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child examines how the Convention is being implemented in each country. In its last report the Committee admonished the UK and asked us to take 'urgent measures to address the intolerance and inappropriate characterization of children, especially adolescents, within the society, including in the media.'
Tanya Byron pointed out that we have come to condemn our young people and that if you are told you are no good that is what you become. She urged us instead to try to understand our children and young people because that is what good parents (and good societies) do.
The Children North East WEYES project does just that. It is a place for young people who have no where else to turn. There they will find people who will always find time to listen, will try to understand and if asked will give good advice. In a society as intolerant of young people as our is, it is vital that WEYES exists; but it is an endictment of our intolerance that it is a necessary project.