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Young voices speak out – maybe it’s time for Government to listen?


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The Government is closing its ears to the legal community’s demands for access to justice for all. The question is can they do the same when the call for change comes directly from young people? Published on the eve of International Human Rights Day, and just two weeks after the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Make Our Rights Reality manifesto and campaign was launched today, developed by hundreds of young people across England.

childrenWe all know that rights mean nothing without the knowledge and means to enforce them – yet the attacks on access to justice perpetrated by the current Government continue to deny children and young people access to advice and representation, placing them at risk of destitution, abuse and exploitation.

“I don’t know what I would have down without my [young person’s] solicitor. They [the authorities] are not respectful towards you unless you have a representative.”Mani, aged 16

Today the Make Our Rights Reality manifesto and campaign was launched representing the voice of young people, telling the Government loud and clear what they need to ensure their rights are made a reality.

100s of children and young people, including MiCLU’s young clients, contributed to the manifesto by sharing information about the problems they face and the barriers they experience in accessing advice and support across all areas of law, including education, housing, welfare benefits, health employment and immigration.

The manifesto calls on the Government to ensure all young people have:-

  • Easy access to correct information
  • Access to independent advice services in their local area
  • Free access to solicitors who specialise in working with young people
  • CAB’s to be more young person-friendly
  • Services tailored to meet their individual needs
  • Their interests to be put first – above those of the system
“They don’t want us to know [our rights] because they don’t want to get into trouble. It’s a lot less work for them to deal with if we don’t know what to ask for.”Arlind, aged 16

Read the Manifesto: Summary and full version

What can you do to help? Add your voice to the campaign!

Make Our Rights Reality RGBYou can help make ignoring young peoples’ voices as difficult as possible for the Government by joining the JustRights “Make Our Rights Reality” Campaign.

Sign the petition! The petition calls on the Government to review young people’s access to information, advice and legal support. And get all your colleagues to sign too!

Tweet your support for the campaign using the hashtag #MakeOurRightsReality

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Migrant & Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU), is a specialist legal and policy hub for separated children and young people subject to immigration control, hosted by Islington Law Centre. JustRights is a coalition of charities campaigning for fair access for children and young people to advice, advocacy and legal representation.