IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Celebrating children's rights at UCL

07 November 2019, 10:00 am–4:00 pm

Vietnamese children playing

A one day conference to celebrate the rights and activism of children and young people in England and across the globe.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Claire Cameron


Jeremy Bentham Room
Wilkins Building
Gower Street

Tickets have sold out but there are still some available for students in Years 11-13. Please email Kirrily Pells for a ticket: k.pells@ucl.ac.uk

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is 30 years old in 2019 and UCL is partnering with Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), part of Just for Kids Law and The Foundling Museum, to host a day of talks and workshops celebrating young people across the globe.

Aimed at young people (Year 11 and up), researchers, activists, NGOs, policy makers and educators, the day will both look back at achievements in the field of children’s rights and look forward, building on what is happening now. 

This event is financially supported by the UCL Grand Challenges Justice and Equality and the UCL Access and Widening Participation Office


Chair: Ginny Morrow, UCL Visiting Professor

The Unfinished Journey: Where are we 30 years on from adoption of the UNCRC?
Keynote speech: Gerison Lansdown, International Child Rights Consultant

10:30-10:45Postcards from the floor
Issues for the day: What concerns young people: Children’s rights in the community and the world today
10:45-11:00The State of Children’s Rights in England: How well is the Government implementing the UNCRC?
Louise King, Director, Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) and Director of Policy and Campaigns, Just for Kids Law
11:00-11:15Questions from the floor
11:30-12:40Morning workshop sessions
13:40-14:50Afternoon workshop sessions
15:10-15:50Panel discussion and Q&A
Deputy Mayor of London Joanne McCartney, Baroness Ruth Lister and three young activists, Anmol Singh, Angelina Naylor and Isabelle Mathews, will discuss children’s rights and the importance of young people’s activism and participation in society.
The panel will include an interactive discussion and will take questions raised in the morning plenary and from roving young reporters on the floor.
Chair: Ginny Morrow, UCL Visiting Professor


Morning sessions 

Putting children’s rights at the heart of the welfare state

Main Quad Pop-up, room 102

In this workshop, Chloë Darlington and Kathy Evans from Children England look at the absence of children’s rights among the admirable principles our struggling welfare state was built on. Participants will hear about Children England’s learnings from their Fair State project and discuss what welfare services (housing, hospitals, schools, benefits and neighbourhoods) could learn from children’s rights campaigns and activities. Delegates will also share ideas from their own experience and expertise about how public services could work more holistically to put children’s rights at their heart.

Your rights over your own life, decisions and body: A discussion session with young people about how consent is at the heart of the UNCRC

Foster Court, room 233

While not mentioned outright in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children’s consent is at the heart of the Rights. Priscilla Alderson, Rosa Mendizabal and Katy Sutcliffe from the Social Science Research Unit at the UCL Institute of Education will facilitate a discussion with young people about their views on and experiences with consent, especially at school. The discussion will also look at four nuanced scenarios dealing with young people and consent, and dive into UNCRC articles to look at how they relate.

From aims and principles to social action: Supporting children to campaign for their own rights

Main Quad Pop-up, room G02

In this workshop, Dr Pip Gardner from Woodcraft Folk will present examples of youth-led campaigns which have been developed by Woodcraft Folk members on issues from period poverty to international arms fairs. They will then lead participants in an interactive activity to explore learnings from a recent pilot project in Cambridgeshire and the tools it developed to enable volunteers to support more youth-led social action projects.

Speaking out on children’s rights

Jeremy Bentham room

In this workshop, Frances Bestley and Jess Bool from Unicef UK along with Unicef Young Ambassador Isabelle Mathews will explore how the Rights Respecting Schools Award and their OutRight initiative are encouraging children and young people to speak out on their rights through the lens of the 30th anniversary of the UNCRC. Inspired by the ongoing ‘Youthquake’, this interactive workshop will use quizzes, group activities and individual reflections to help participants explore how childhood has changed over the last 30 years and share the child rights issues they think are a priority in 2019 and beyond.

Claim your power to empower

Main Quad Pop-up, room 101

Led by Isabel Butterworth, Sasa Onyango, Kafayat Okanlawon and Porshia Johnson of Solace Women’s Aid, this workshop will look at the impacts of modern life on young people’s mental health. It will explore the pressures of power and raise awareness about different types of power, while advocating for the importance of being aware of our power within and our inner strengths. Finally, it will look for solutions and advocate for the importance of using our voices collectively. The session will be very interactive, using multimedia, role-plays and interactive discussions.

The right to a healthy and sustainable environment: Mapping hazards in our community

Foster Court, room 132

This workshop will be led by year 8/9 students, supported by Mr Ben Allon (Geography Teacher, Manchester Enterprise Academy (MEA) Central), Catherine Walker (The University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute) and Raichael Lock (Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN)). It will draw on the eco-club at MEA’s learnings on health and environmental hazards of climate change along with the social cartography they have undertaken in conjunction with MEEN, the University of Manchester and the Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre in Brazil, as well as two Brazilian schools. The facilitators will present their map and suggestions for what politicians and other leaders in Manchester and beyond should do to reduce the risks for young people growing up under the shadow of climate change.

Clean Air project with school children

South Quad Pop-up, room 102

Facilitated by Jan Cullen and year 6/7 students from William Patten Primary School, this workshop will give participants an insight into the local campaign Clean Air 4 Schools and how they have worked across their primary school through creative projects to raise awareness about an issue that affects their lives on a daily basis. Delegates will hear how art and activism can be used as powerful tools against the challenge of being heard by adults, and they can expect to explore their own creativity through producing something to take away such as a poster, leaflet, manifesto, sewn piece of bunting, or other creation.

Equal protection for children: Keeping the momentum

Medical Sciences, room 131

In this workshop, facilitators Eloise Di Gianni and Anna Henry (Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children), Rachel Thomas (Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland) and Gráinne Mellon (Garden Court Chambers) will lead a discussion of England’s human rights obligation to prohibit corporal punishment of children, considering the global and regional context, and brainstorm what is needed to achieve law reform. To support discussions, participants will hear from campaigners in Wales and Ireland.

Creating change

Main Quad Pop-up, room G01

Dami Makinde and Chrisann Jarrett of We Belong, an innovative new organisation led by young people who migrated to the UK and are proud to call the UK home, will lead this workshop which will look at useful tools for winning campaigns, mobilising people and advocating for better rights. Participants will also hear about the personal experiences of We Belong, their organisational journey and joint mission to empower migrants to be able to contribute fully to British society and to inspire young people to take the lead in their schools and communities.

Children's Rights in Research: Researching with us not on us

South Quad Pop-up, room G01

The UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre have recently set up a young persons’ advisory group for eye and vision research, using a co-production approach. In this workshop, facilitators Dr Louca-Mai Brady and Jacqueline Miller from UCL will use creative methods and games to engage children, young people and adults in a conversation about children’s rights in research in ways that are interactive and fun. It will explore the links between children’s rights and their involvement in research; how involvement in research can make a difference – to children and to research, services and policy; the different ways children can be involved in research; and how to make sure everyone has a chance to be included, including children who are ‘less often heard’.

Fighting for rights: The story of Janusz Korczak

Foster Court, room 130

Organised in two parts, this workshop is led by Julia Prieto-Brain (age 10), Blanca Prieto-Brain (age 12) and Basia Vucic, PhD research student from the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education. Part I will introduce the work of Janusz Korczak (a doctor, writer and educator) and explore how it inspired the UNCRC including through reading one of his stories. Part II will be interactive and will use small group activities to look at how difficult it is to achieve consensus within the context of the 10-year debate in drafting the UNCRC and Korczak’s ‘lived rights’ experiment. The workshop demonstrates the conflicts in the history and implementation of the UNCRC, and participants will gain knowledge about Korczak’s legacy and how he implemented child rights and democracy with participation of children.

Afternoon sessions

Should young people have the right to youth services?

Jeremy Bentham room

This interactive workshop is led by Tania de St Croix and Louise Doherty from Kings College London. Participants will debate whether young people should have a ‘right’ to youth services, and hear and share experiences of youth services through stories and artwork. They will also have a chance to role play what might be said if your youth club was being closed down to persuade your council to set up a new one.

Young people and the human right to food: What does it mean and what can be done?

Foster Court, room 233

This workshop is facilitated by Dr Rebecca O’Connell and Laura Hamilton, postgraduate researchers, from Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education. In the context of so-called austerity, the UK has seen a sharp rise in poverty and food insecurity amongst families with children. This interactive workshop asks: What part does food play in the lives of young people in the UK? How does it compare to eating in other countries? What difference does having enough money make? What can different groups (children, families, schools, governments) do to help everyone eat well regardless of income? Participants will take part in small group activities and whole group discussions.

I have been hurt. I have the right to be listened to. And taken seriously. And it is this that will make a difference.

Foster Court, room 132

Facilitated by Alex Jones from St Christopher’s Fellowship, this workshop has been co-produced with young people living in children’s residential homes. Using a range of experiential learning activities and creative methods, it will explore how a rights-based approach can support growth and resilience for those who have experienced childhood trauma, and how supporting young people to exercise their right to be heard and involved in decisions that affect them can have significant positive impact on their lives. Participants will also hear from three young people who are now care leavers, and will have the opportunity to work in small groups to look more closely at one case study.

Being aware of your rights: A poetic approach

South Quad Pop-up, room 102

In this interactive workshop, Alexandra Otubanjo, a PHD research student at UCL, will lead participants in taking a closer look at the UNCRC and what ‘children’s rights’ means to them as a background for introducing the arts of poetry and spoken word and their application to children’s rights. Participants will hear a spoken word piece and have the opportunity to work on creative writing pieces of their own.

Alternative World Summit for children by children

Foster Court, room 130

Facilitators Alessia Bergmeijer (SOAS) and Marta Nicolazzi (UCL) have designed this workshop modelled on the UN to create a political space for young people to share, discuss their opinions on pressing issues and then take a vote. Participants will work in small groups to take a close look at complex scenarios, both local and international, tackling themes such as gender policies, the right to education, the right to protest, and the environment.

How can we better engage children and young people in decisions that affect their rights?

South Cloisters

There have never been so many children and young people on the planet, yet they are often left behind when it comes to decision-making processes which affect their rights. This workshop will be run by two of CRAE’s Change It! steering group members, Mark Omerod and Jamielea Wright. These young activists will share their experiences of being involved in the UK’s examination on their compliance with the UNCRC in 2016, from carrying out research with children to giving evidence to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. There will also be a chance to discuss innovative ways children and young people can be better involved in decision-making, whether it be at the local, national or international level.

Bags of inequality: Celebrating the power of art to change lives

Main Quad Pop-up, room G01

In this workshop, run by Emma Middleton and Anne Harild from The Foundling Museum, participants will explore the history of the Foundling Museum, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery, established by Thomas Coram in 1739. Trainees from the ground-breaking Tracing Our Tales project at the Museum will be on hand to help workshop participants make small bags that champion the rights of the child. Participants can explore what they feel passionate about and express themselves using words and images and utilising a range of printmaking techniques.

Children's rights and strategic litigation: Can strategic litigation be a tool for children's rights?

Main Quad Pop-up, room G02

Most children’s rights advocates rely on the UNCRC in their daily work, and the UK government has publicly committed to complying with the UNCRC, however courts and litigators have sometimes been slower to accept the power of the UNCRC in legal arguments. In this workshop, Shauneen Lambe (Impact Law for Social Justice) and Jennifer Twite (Just for Kids Law) will reveal the mixed feelings surrounding the UNCRC in litigation and explore how policy and advocacy experts can work together with litigators and the courts to embed the UNCRC into litigation.

Believe in US: Child exploitation in the UK

South Quad Pop-up, room G01

Members of ECPAT UK youth group, who are all victims of trafficking in the UK, will be leading this interactive workshop on child trafficking and exploitation in the UK. Using humour, exercises and discussion to find a non-traumatic way of looking at the trauma and denial of rights inherent in child trafficking, participants will be shown a film and introduced to the relationship between consumer choices such as buying chocolate or the clothes they wear and child trafficking.

Listening to children in policy-making

Main Quad Pop-up, room 101

Children’s right to participate in decisions that affect them is often lacking in humanitarian contexts. This workshop is led by Carine Le Borgne and Youth Advocates from World Vision who contributed to the research ‘Their fight, our future’, which involved more than 60 children and young people from six World Vision programmes. Participants will then take part in a roundtable discussion which will explore how children from overseas can be better involved in influencing UK Aid policy-making, and how children and young people in the UK can be best involved in amplifying the voices of children overseas.

Small change: We are not asking for more than we need

Main Quad Pop-up, room 102

Using learning from their Breaking the Chains Programme, Anna Skehan from the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) will look at the UK’s asylum system and its current lack of respect for the rights of children and young people, exploring how simple changes could make significant improvements. Participants will also hear from children and young people with experience of the current system and have the opportunity to take part in an asylum interview.

The TRIUMPH research network (Trans-disciplinary Research into Improving Youth Mental Public Health)

Medical Sciences, room 131

Facilitated by young people along with Nicki Ryan and Christina McMellon from the TRIUMPH research network at Glasgow University, this interactive workshop explores the reasons LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to experience difficulties with their mental health than other young people. The workshop will use a rights-informed approach to examine the connections between mental health and sexuality with particular reference to Articles 8, 12, 13 and 24 of the UNCRC.