Dame Rachel De Souza, The Children’s Commissioner for England and Tom from Port Vale Football talk new campaign ‘The Big Ambition’!
The Big Ambition aims to hear from children and young people across England on what they think is important. In the lead up to the next general election, the children’s commissioner wants to take children’s thoughts, opinions and ideas to decision makers, to make sure that the government hears young people’s voices on what they think needs to be done, to make children’s lives better in England.
Dame De Souza has been talking to young people in environments such as schools, hospitals and youth prisons to find out what concerns they would like to raise with politicians. Issues that have arisen include safety on the streets, mental health provision and youth clubs. Education, cramped housing and lowering the voting age to 16 were also raised.
Dame De Souza’s previous project – The Big Ask – focussed on what children wanted from politicians in the aftermath of lockdown. With Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s support, The Big Ask received half a million responses. Dame De Souza took the outcomes of The Big Ask survey to the Secretary of State for Education, who was amazed at the number of responses to the survey. Every time they made a decision about children, they called Dame De Souza in to ask what children said about the topic in The Big Ask. This time, The Big Ambition will go straight to the Prime Minister. This will ensure that the next Prime Minister knows what children want and puts children at the centre of policy.
Dame De Souza wants children not to give up and not to think that they aren’t listened to. Many of the things that children have told Dame De Souza have produced change. Politicians are now aware that topics that children raised in The Big Ask such as anxiety and not going back to school due to COVID-19 have come true. Therefore, politicians are listening hard this time to what children are saying 2 years on after lockdown.
Dame De Souza also noted that as part of The Big Ambition, there is an adult survey for over 18’s as well as the children’s survey.
Tom plays for Port Vale FC, an EFL League One football club. Alongside Port Vale captain Nathan Smith, Tom set up the Pro Level Academy in 2021 and recently set up the Pro Level Vision charity. This aims to give children from all walks of life and all footballing abilities access to academy standard coaching. Tom wants to get involved with The Big Ambition because it’s a great way to find out what worries children have and then help them. He mentioned the impact that building confidence on the pitch can have on a young person’s confidence off the pitch. His advice for young people is to speak out about your worries, whether that’s to your parents, a football coach etc. Tom thinks that The Big Ambition is a great opportunity for young people to speak out!
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