Leicester young people’s film about children’s rights reaches global audience

Derren Hayes
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Young people from Leicester make a film explaining the importance of children’s rights that has been used as part of a Unicef campaign.

The film features young people explaining their rights and what impact it can have if adults don’t respect them
The film features young people explaining their rights and what impact it can have if adults don’t respect them
  • Name Was Not Heard
  • Provider Leicester City Council

A film about children’s rights made by young people in Leicester is reaching a global audience after being picked up by Unicef.

The film – Was Not Heard – was made in Leicester with the support of youth workers at Leicester City Council, in association with local filmmakers Badshoes Film. It highlights the rights of children to have their voices heard, be listened to by adults and to have their views considered and respected by decision makers.

In doing so, the film is highlighting Article 12 of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which sets out children’s “right to be listened to, and taken seriously”.

The film was devised by young people from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and received a virtual premiere in July. It was written by 17-year-old Yasmin Allen with narration and performances from 12 young actors aged from six to 17.

During the four-minute film, young people explain their rights under the UNCRC and what impact it can have if adults do not respect and support these. Statements include:

  • “I have the right to be listened to.”
  • “It’s your legal responsibility to listen to me because my voice matters.”
  • “It’s not just your job to listen and act but to explain that to me too.”
  • “Not listening leaves me vulnerable.”
  • “I believe that the best way to be listened to is to listen to other people.”

The film was funded by NHS England and the Safeguarding Partnership Boards of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Yasmin says: “By listening to youth voice, adults can become the bridge between our problems and support. Not listening and not acting on what you hear doesn’t just break trust, the consequences are that you leave young people in a vulnerable position.”

Sarah Russell, deputy city mayor responsible for social care, says: “This powerful, thought-provoking and creative film fully deserves the global recognition it is getting. I am so proud of our local young people who came up with the idea for the film and delighted our brilliant participation team could support them to make it happen.”

Young people from the project have been asked to write about their experience making the film and their thoughts on the importance of youth voice for Unicef’s Voices of Youth blog. Their thoughts and opinions alongside a link to the film will be shared worldwide.

The film’s success is the latest participation initiative that Leicester has been recognised for – last year, the council was awarded ‘“flagship level” status under the Hear by Right initiative run by the National Youth Agency (see below).

Hear by Right initiative

Hear by Right assesses and recognises organisations’ commitment to youth participation and promoting youth voice.

It is an organisational development tool built on a framework of seven standards with 20 indicators that describe best practice, supporting organisations to plan, develop and evaluate their participation practices and provision.

The tool, run by the National Youth Agency (NYA) for a decade, fosters a culture of development; a continual journey for keeping young people at the heart of decision making.

The Hear by Right framework is a free resource for self-assessment, there is also the option to go for a formal assessment process to gain a national NYA award to recognise and celebrate great practice in participation.

Organisations are awarded either “flagship” or “active” level status. After attending an insight session with the NYA, organisations reflect on their practice and implement a range of improvements to their internal processes and structures which are all aimed at improving youth participation throughout the organisation.

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