The Children’s Alliance is an initiative by Water Babies, a strategic partner of RLSS UK, which aims to broaden politicians’ awareness of the health and wellbeing issues currently facing children in the UK, and push to create a ministerial position dedicated to the health and wellbeing of children.

Anna Firth MP speaking at Children

On Wednesday 7th September, Charity Director of RLSS UK, Lee Heard, joined representatives from business, the voluntary sector and academia to meet with politicians in Westminster’s Terrace Pavilion to call for the appointment of a Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People.

Lee said: “We are proud to support and work with The Children's Alliance and Water Babies on this extremely important issue. Children and young people are quite simply our future and by ensuring that their health and wellbeing is taken into account when creating and updating policies, means we can invest in the next generation, make a difference in their lives, and ensure they have the right, equal opportunities available to them in their future.

“RLSS UK wants to ensure that all young people, irrespective of background, disability, faith, gender, and race have access to swimming lessons, water safety education and employment opportunities to allow them to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water. This will help tackle the problem that we see each year with accidental drownings amongst young people.

“A Sport England survey in 2021 showed that 34% of children and young people with a low family affluence score can swim 25 metres, compared to 77% of those with a high family affluence. Appointing a Cabinet Minster for Children and Young People will bring these issues to the forefront so we can do all we can to ensure that we do not fail our children and young people.”

The Children’s Alliance will be launching a quartet of reports this week, after the announcement of Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister. Baroness Frances De Souza, Honorary President of The Children’s Alliance welcomed the timing, commenting: “Sky high energy bills and a catastrophic cost of living crisis hot on the heels of a ‘once in a century’ pandemic mean that we cannot go on as before.

“Children and young people are consigned to the margins of a country they will one day lead and there has been no legislation about their health and wellbeing since 2010! The new Prime Minister must stop the rot and appoint a Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People who will ensure that their needs are at the heart of policy in all Government Departments. Pilot schemes and locally commissioned ‘projects’ are poor excuses for decisive national leadership at a time of national emergency.”

The reports contain a wealth of information from professional practice and real life experience for use by national and local government, business and the voluntary sector and covers a spectrum from planning and construction through to law and order, housing, health, transport, education, and socioeconomic strategy. Early investment, early intervention and preventative action make sense now and are cost-effective in the long term.

Speaking on behalf of Water Babies; sponsor of Children’s Alliance, Tamsin Brewis said: “These reports contain the latest findings of many distinguished experts in a variety of fields. They show that giving children and young people the best start in life is the way to make the United Kingdom a more equal and productive society in which we can all thrive while contributing to a UK that is a safe and welcoming place for all its residents and an example of the very best practice in our world family of nations.”

The event at Westminster was hosted by Southend West MP Anna Firth, who supported RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign this summer.

Anna Firth commented: “My distinguished predecessor Sir David Amess had agreed to host this event initially and did much to bring the excellent work of Children’s Alliance to the attention of our Parliamentary and Ministerial colleagues. I am so sad that he cannot celebrate the publication of the policy quartet with us today but know that his wonderful work with and for children and young people everywhere is a legacy that we will always honour in his name at Westminster – the seat of our democracy and the guardian of equality and justice for all.”

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