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A fond farewell to our Chief Executive….

CW pictureToday we say goodbye to our Chief Executive and founder, Catriona Williams OBE, after 27 continuous years championing children’s rights.  All of the Trustees, members of the Policy Council and staff team would like to wish you a long and happy retirement.

Catriona had these few words to say…

“It has been a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience, particularly because of the colleagues, children and young people that I have met along the way. There is such talent, passion and commitment from so very many people who have the same goal of making the UNCRC a reality in Wales. Recruitment for my replacement is well underway and business will continue as usual in the capable hands of staff and trustees. Whilst many significant challenges remain and are likely to increase in the future, there have been some policy developments in Wales that have set a positive future direction. Ironically, several of these have come together just before I retire.

The 30th Anniversary of the UNCRC event was a real celebration and of the circa 400 participants of whom attended, nearly half were children and young people which created an energy and a true spirit of working together. Funded by Welsh Government we organised it in partnership with Welsh Government, UNICEF, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and Swansea University’s Observatory on Human Rights of Children. It provided a launch pad for Welsh Government to officially recognise the first organisations to have achieved the Children and Young People’s Participation Standards Kitemark Certificate. We hope many others will follow. Not only did First Minister Mark Drakeford AM make the presentations, he also made a pledge about implementing the UNCRC. This is very useful as considerations begin about what to put into our Manifesto for the next Assembly elections. An excellent start to implementation of the UNCRC is the law to enable young people aged 16 and 17 to vote in the next Assembly election. More challenging of course is the context such as the uncertainty of the impact of Brexit on children and young people, increasing levels of child poverty and of children and young people in public care, not to mention ensuring children and young people’s emotional well-being and implementing new legislation and policy such as for additional learning needs, the curriculum and preventative early intervention.

Another policy development finally coming to fruition is to end the physical punishment of children. Children in Wales has campaigned for this for many years to close the loophole that gives children less protection in law than adults. The Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill reached Stage 4 on the 28th January 2020. It is fitting that Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services will take it over the finishing line as she has had a longstanding ambition to enshrine this basic human right for children in law ever since she was an MP in Westminster.

My final reflection, whilst there are many improvements there must be a way of increasing the pace of change, particularly if it is to improve children’s lives.  30 years is nearly two generations!”

Good luck Catriona!