All children and young people in Manchester are set to benefit from new opportunities and support throughout 2022 to help them reclaim their futures after a year spent largely in lockdown or in restricted measures due to Covid-19.
As the country emerges from the pandemic Manchester is asking the city to look at itself through the eyes of its younger residents and has branded next year 2022 as Manchester Year of the Child, a 'year of opportunity' for all children and young people.
Dedicating next year to children and young people will be just the start of a new way of thinking and doing in Manchester, placing children and young people's needs at the forefront of planning across every sphere of city life - something that could also lead to the city being formally recognised by UNICEF as a 'Child Friendly City'.
The council is therefore calling on the whole city - businesses, cultural organisations, leisure providers, shops, transport operators, and others - to get behind its children and young people and think what they could do differently to help them be happy and healthy, and to have the kind of opportunities and experiences they need and deserve so they can reclaim their futures and succeed in life.
Discussions are already underway on delivering a year-round programme of cultural and leisure activities for young people, as well as wide-ranging work experience, mentoring, and volunteering opportunities. The council is however keen to hear from anyone who thinks they have something to offer that would make a difference to the life chances of children and young people.
Research indicates that the social and learning experiences children receive alongside parenting during their formative, primary, and secondary school years are a key determinant in adulthood and their overall health and wellbeing. The Covid pandemic has however caused a great deal of disruption to people’s daily lives, with children and young people particularly affected, and at a critical time in their development.
Although the whole country has been subject to measures of one kind or another since March 2020, Manchester as a city region has had greater restrictions placed on it than most other parts of the UK. As a result there is much concern locally about the impact these measures have had on the city's younger population - on their learning, their well-being, and the opportunities and activities they've missed out on.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children and Schools, Manchester City Council, said:
“We all know that this past year has been tough for Manchester’s children and young people. In the face of huge challenges our young people have shown dedication and resilience throughout, and now they deserve people to stand up for their futures.
“In recent weeks we've seen the Government sell our children short with their botched education recovery proposals which see too little investment and too little ambition.
"We are determined to put young people at the centre of the city’s recovery.
"That's why we're making 2022 the Manchester Year of the Child - a year of opportunity with increased work placements, mentoring, leisure activities and events; and the chance just to socialise and have fun.
"This is an open invite for everyone in the city to look through the eyes of children and young people and see what they can offer to put young people at the heart of Manchester’s recovery.
"Young people will be at the centre of this – telling us what they want to see in their city.
"We're calling 2022 a 'year of opportunity' – but this 12 months is just a kick-start. We want this commitment to be long-lasting and one more thing that sets Manchester apart."