Barnet Council yesterday (31 May) launched a bold new strategy to enable children and young people to influence decisions in the council. The participation strategy, called My Say Matters, was unveiled by young people at a special event at Hendon Town Hall.

The new strategy sets out the way the council is going to work with and involve children and young people so they can use their voice to help and make decisions, and design and shape the services they use and which matter to them.

Equality, diversity and inclusion were highlighted as key issues for young people and have been put at the heart of the strategy to enable everyone to share their voice and express themselves. My Say Matters will ensure all voices are heard, especially those from racially minoritised, migrant and LGBT+ communities, disabled children and other marginalised groups.

The event was attended by The Worshipful the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Alison Moore, who said: “I was delighted to be able attend the launch of My Say Matters and to hear from the young people involved in developing the strategy. Their obvious passion, commitment and enthusiasm for ensuring not just their voices but those of other young people are heard was truly inspiring, and I’m sure amongst them there will be the community leaders of the future.”

Speaking about the launch and development of the strategy, Chris Munday, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Barnet Council, said: “Building on a range of previous initiatives My Say Matters is a bold step to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard and amplified across Barnet. Engaging with their passion and enthusiasm is vital to making Barnet even more family friendly.”

Donna Swanberg, Head of Safeguarding, Quality Assurance & Workforce Development, said: “We are so appreciative to all the children and young people who have given so much of their time, energy and creativity to developing My Say Matters and designing and delivering the launch event. It has been a dynamic and humbling process which has provided us with valuable insights and learning opportunities which are central to meaningful and impactful participation: space, voice, audience, and influence. Thank you to everyone involved.”

Presentations were given from Youth Parliament, Youth Assembly and Youth Board as well as the targeted forums BING (Barnet Inclusive Next Generation – our Special Educational Needs forum), Y-QAG (Young Quality Assurance Group) and BOP (Barnet on Point – our Child in Care Council). Young people spoke about their interest in topics such as democracy, education, the impact of the pandemic and ways their campaigns have influenced changes in Barnet Service delivery.

The young people involved in My Say Matters produced a film to explain what My Say Matters means, and how all young people can get involved to work with the council and have their say (available at Young people were involved and empowered throughout the process of developing the new way of working, and in all aspects of its launch – from creating the design, to deciding what to focus on at the event.

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