Professionals working with children across Cumbrian have been given a first insight into extensive research which canvassed the views of 6,300 youngsters about life growing up in the county.
More than 100 delegates from children’s services, health, police, education and voluntary organisations attended an event run jointly by children’s charity Barnardo’s and the University of Cumbria at the Fusehill St campus.
Throughout the day, delegates heard about the findings from one of the largest surveys of its kind carried out in 2017 by Barnardo’s.
In total, around 6,300 children aged between eight and 12 took part in the study.
In October last year, Barnardo’s announced its findings after more than 4,500 eight to 12 year olds took part in the survey from Allerdale, Eden, Carlisle and South Lakes.
Since that time, an additional 1,800 children from Copeland and Furness have been surveyed.
Children from all backgrounds were questioned about the things they love, dislike and worry about most growing up in Cumbria, as well as finding out who they would turn to if they needed help. They were also asked to consider their wishes for their families and other children.
“We are delighted that the findings from this survey have been embraced by children’s services and other organisations who work closely with children across Cumbria,” Julie Fletcher, Barnardo’s children’s services manager, said. “This piece of work has given such a strong voice to children in Cumbria, with one in three spoken to, and what has become clear is that even at such a young age, children are extremely astute to what is going on in the wider world around them. The survey has highlighted their awareness of health and loss and their concern for the wellbeing of their families and other children, including those living in poverty and not as fortunate as themselves.
“This latest event with the University of Cumbria is the next step in working with other services to look at how we can use our children’s voices to make a difference to the lives of families in the region.”
Barnardo’s and the University of Cumbria are working to interpret and share the data with the aim that it will help influence and shape the way services for children are delivered in Cumbria.
"Listening to children is important because it helps us to respond to their needs and ambitions,” Prof Pete Boyd, director of the Learning, Education and Development (LED) Research Centre at the University of Cumbria, said. “This is useful because it can help to inform the work of a wide range of public services, schools and community groups. However, it is important to carefully design the way that we gather children’s views and interpret what they are saying. If many children tell us their ambition is to become professional netball or football player, we might work towards developing more local sports facilities and coaching, but we do not stop teaching them maths and poetry. In working with children across Cumbria, we should identify and build on their strengths and interests, rather than being distracted by the often negative impressions of young people reported in the media.”