Global recognition for Cardiff, as city is crowned UK’s first ever UNICEF Child Friendly City

Working with the city’s children and young people, Cardiff has prioritised six key areas: Cooperation and Leadership; Communication; Culture; Healthy; Family and Belonging; and Education and Learning.

These priorities and goals have been enshrined in Cardiff’s Child Friendly Strategy since 2018. Working in partnership with organisations across the city, a significant number of projects, initiatives and actions have been undertaken to ensure that children and young people are able to claim their rights, thrive and reach their potential, whilst addressing the barriers which may limit their life chances.

Cardiff Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas said: “Since the launch of Cardiff’s Child Friendly Strategy, the city has embarked on a journey of transformation with the aim that all children, including the most vulnerable, feel safe, heard, nurtured and able to thrive, to become a place where their rights are respected by all.

“Through the shared ambition of other public services, extensive work has been carried out to ensure that Cardiff is a place where all children and young people, regardless of belief, ethnicity, background or wealth are safe, healthy, happy and able to share in the city’s success with equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents.

“The foundation of this change has been the development of a rights respecting culture across the council and city-wide partners to ensure our staff are knowledgeable and confident regarding rights and their practice. This has been supported by policy which has empowered children and young people to be meaningfully involved in decisions that matter to them, enabling services to meet their needs and adults to be more accountable for the way children and young people’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.”


Some highlights achieved to date

  • 40,000 children and young people have participated in wellbeing programmes including Summer of Fun and Winter of Wellbeing events.
  • 42,254 children and young people have accessed early help and support via the new Family Support Gateway since April 2019.
  • 66,324 children aged 5-14 have accessed local authority play provision since April 2020
  • 73% of Cardiff schools are working to embed children’s rights as part of the UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award.
  • 3,995 children and young people have received participation and rights training.
  • Almost 14,000 active citizenship hours have been delivered by young people through groups including the Children and Young People Citizen Panel, Cardiff Influencers and the Children’s Youth Council.
  • 4,807 Council staff members have received rights training.
  • There have been over 700 opportunities available to children and young people to meaningfully participate in Cardiff Council decision-making.
  • 50 teams of children were engaged with to design new areas of the city through Minecraft Education.
  • 2,785 children have participated in design, monitoring and evaluation of Council services.
  • 12,000 young people provided views via the Child Friendly City Survey.
  • More than 155,00 thousand packs of products have been delivered to schools to support Cardiff’s commitment to promote period dignity since March 2019.
  • 19 streets helping to reduce traffic at 22 schools have been made safer through the School Streets Scheme.
  • Nine city-wide outdoor Story Trails have been developed for families to enjoy.
  • More than 2861 children have accessed over 90 free extra-curricular activities through The Passport to the City initiative helping them develop a sense of pride in their community and city.
  • 43 partners have delivered hundreds of initiatives for young people in areas such as science and technology, arts and culture and health and wellbeing to enrich their learning experiences within and beyond the classroom.

Cllr Thomas

“Receiving UNICEF Child Friendly City status is a key milestone in Cardiff’s long-term child friendly plans. The work to make a city where the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children and young people are at the heart of policies, programmes and decisions has significantly progressed but there is still work to be done and we remain committed to making children’s rights a reality and look forward to working with children and young people to further develop our rights approach.

“I would like to congratulate and thank Cardiff’s Child Friendly team and all of our partner organisations who have helped to realise the city’s ambitions and who have made history, putting Cardiff on the map for its hard work and determination of putting children first in everything we do.”

Cardiff Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Sarah Merry

“Ten years ago, Wales put Children’s Rights at the heart of their laws with all Welsh ministers, public services and large national organisations paying attention to children’s rights in everything they do. Cardiff has built on this culture and since 2018 we have achieved great things despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“Our Covid Recovery, for example, has been one of many strategies that focusses on children and young people who are particularly vulnerable, developing solutions that seek to improve education and health outcomes and provide families with the right support at the right time.

“We have improved our understanding of the lived experiences of a wider range of children and young people to promote their dignity and we have endeavoured to promote the importance of adopting a child’s rights approach across services, policy and programmes.

“To have formal UNICEF Child Friendly City recognition is a culmination of almost five years of hard work, commitment and dedication from teams across the city who have worked tirelessly to achieve this status.

“Cardiff should feel very proud and excited as we look forward to a child friendly future where we continue our ambition of making Cardiff a city where children and young people are at its heart and where the voices, needs and rights of every child and young person are respected.”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK)

“Becoming the first UNICEF Child Friendly City in the UK is testament to the significant commitment and hard work that has taken place by Cardiff council and its partners over the past five years. It also marks a promise to the city’s children and young people – that the council will continue to make sure children’s voices are at the heart of local decisions, and to making sure all children and young people – especially those who are most vulnerable and marginalised – have their rights upheld, now and in the future.”