The Children’s Legal Centre for Wales is all about providing information about the law in Wales to children and young people living here. We grew out of the work that has been done, and continues to be done, by the Observatory on the Human Rights of Children which looks at the human rights of children in Wales (and in other parts of the world), in particular in connection with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which sets out the human rights of children. Article 12 and 13 give children a right to express their opinions when adults are making decisions about them, and to get and share information (as long as that information isn’t damaging either to the children concerned or to others). In this context, children and young people should be able to research topics of interest to them, and take their findings and evidence to discuss with adults who can help the young people make the changes they are seeking.

Child-led research

A sister initiative to the Children’s Legal Centre for Wales is Lleisiau Bach/Little Voices. It’s a project that started in Funky Dragon, the Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales. When Funky Dragon closed down in 2014, Lleisiau Bach/Little Voices, which has been funded by the Big Lottery People and Places fund in a series of grants since 2012, transferred to the Observatory on the Human Rights of Children at Swansea University.

Underlining the projects Lleisiau Bach/Little Voices have delivered (and continue to deliver) is a hugely innovative methodology of child-led research. This is not about children helping adults with their research – this is about children and young people deciding what they want to research, undertaking the research themselves, and engaging with decision makers to bring about direct and lasting changes in the communities where they live and study, and in the wider world.

Projects that have been completed over the last few years include research into the introduction of a new school uniform,  organ donation, loneliness, access to the mountains, adult use of mobile phones, research into holding a ‘Rights Day’ and researching how to make the school gate smoke free. The current project, Little Voices Being Heard, is additionally supporting children who face barriers to participation, and is working with groups including pupils at Crownbridge School, Cwmbran researching Access in the Community, and St Cyres Hearing Base, Vale of Glamorgan, who are researching British Sign Language.

Children as Researchers Network

The Research Officers who work with children and young people across Wales, Helen Dale in Swansea and Arwyn Roberts in Bangor, are keen to engage with people who are interested in supporting children as researchers, developing relationships and a network to provide further support. They have set up the Children and Researchers Network. This new community is open to anyone interested in supporting children and young people to conduct research, and in helping, inspiring and connecting with others engaged in similar work. It will be a great tool for identifying wants and needs to further inform the work of Lleisiau Bach/Little Voices, and to share information and action with others. If this is you, why not join up today?!

Find out more about the Little Voices Children as Researchers network, and to join up, click here for the bilingual press release:

The Children’s Legal Centre will be supporting Little Voices/Lleisiau Bach projects by providing information about the law that can further support the research the children and young people carry out.