Professor Holland spoke of human rights in connection with Faith organisations, which come under her remit, as for every public body in Wales. A child has a right to be Safe, to be Listened to, to take part in Decisions and their implementation that affect him / her. These are unconditional as the love of God is unconditional. Sally Holland gave examples of churches honouring these rights by involving children in decision-making structures and in services and by providing, for example, holiday clubs and meals for children who otherwise would go without.
She then explained her 3 year programme in Wales called The Right Way, which had developed from extensive listening to children in many settings: schools, care homes, prisons and detention centres. The Right Way has 5 objectives:
a)Embedding UNCRC by talks and publicity with the aim of every child knowing his / her rights;
b)Equality and non-discrimination by ensuring access and removing barriers;
c)Empowerment in decision-making, knowledge and implementation;
d)Participation of children in this programme; and
e)Accountability that was based on feedback, transparency and accountability.
The programme had created roles for children as Super ambassadors and Student ambassadors in schools and Community ambassadors in non-school settings such as travellers, prisons and home educated. Ambassadors fed back information about children’s needs and concerns to the Children Commissioner’s team to influence policy and implementation. She finished her presentation by asking the audience to suggest areas for action in the next 3 year programme. Further information can be found on the website: www.childcomwales.org.uk.
MAECymru’s chair Revd Mary Stallard talk focussed on what helps people grow and flourish. Posing the questions, Is it women and men working together equally? Is it by reconciliation? And how do I do it, where I am not welcome.
Revd Canon Dr Manon James presided at the closing Eucharist.
The keynote speaker Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, speaking at the MAECymru Spring conference in Newtown in April, outlined her legal powers under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which are enshrined in UK law and signed up to by every county in the world, except the USA. These rights apply to every child, from a refugee to Prince George. There are 44 Rights which apply to every child up to age18 covering what is necessary for a child to be safe and enabled to live a full life. A child’s human rights are embodied in five principles: they are inherent, universal, indivisible, inalienable and unconditional.