Recently ATUC Exec member and former President Kate Ramsden spoke at a public event organised jointly by SPSC and ATUC as part of their 150th anniversary commemoration, on the detention of Palestinian children by the state of Israel. Here is the text of that presentation for any who wish to read it.
"As well as a trade union activist I am a social worker to trade and for the past almost 20 years I’ve been a children’s rights officer – what I like to refer to as “my proper job.”
It’s a job I love. Firmly based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (the UNCRC) my colleague and I work with and for children who are looked after and placed away from home, and other children needing a rights service. We are involved only with the express agreement of the young person and they have control of what we do, unless there is risk to them or others, and even then we would not act without their knowledge. For children who often don’t have a lot of power in their lives, this helps to promote their confidence and their resilience – crucially important for their future life chances.
Over those 20 years I have seen the acceptance that children have rights widen. Now all legislation relating to children incorporates reference to their rights under the UNCRC. The importance of children having a voice in matters affecting them has become widely accepted and very gradually cultures in this country are changing. Children are empowered to speak and adults see the value of listening.
I feel privileged to have been a part of this change.
Which is not to say that things are perfect in this country. But there is progress.
And it is because of my background I suppose that I see so clearly when children are not being valued across the world, where their rights are not being respected or are being ridden roughshod over.