19 Mar 2008

Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley, today challenged Government to make sure the voice of children and young people was heard and listened to at the highest level. 

Ms Lewsley, speaking as she addressed the Big Deal conference on participation, in Lisburn, said reforms of public administration offered the chance to make sure children had a say in decisions that will affect how services are delivered.

“Today I have had the pleasure of listening to one of the world experts on participation – Harry Shier - explain how we can make sure that the voice of children and young people can help shape services,” said the Commissioner.

Mr Shier said, "As someone who has been involved in children and young people's participation for many years, it is always an inspiration to see the way things keep moving forward and as a Lisburn man, born and bred, its a special honour to be invited back to contribute to this process. 

“We are at a crossroads in Northern Ireland. We must make the choice that will make sure that those who use services such as health and education can themselves make sure that they are appropriate and meet needs – that is the children and young people themselves.” 

Ms Lewsley addressed today’s conference on participation, organised by the Big Deal, a four million pound initiative from the Big Lottery Fund.

“This is not simply a trite way of introducing children and young people to debating – this is about how we change services to meet needs. 

“The Review of Public Administration is a tremendous opportunity to make sure that we listen to children and young people, we involve them, and we remember that, as users of services, they are best placed to offer solutions.”

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MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or   communications@niccy.org