Anne Longfield’s final speech today as Children’s Commissioner for England put children front and centre and asked the government if it is “serious about ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’?” Anne had a lot to say about the need for better care for vulnerable young people whose problems have been exacerbated by Covid.

What really struck a chord with us was Anne’s point that “the system needs to help professionals develop relationships with children.” And whilst this might seem like a no-brainer, she also said, “I have been shocked to discover that many officials have never met any of the children they are responsible for.”

This point is fundamentally at the heart of Make (Good) Trouble’s ethos, which is to give young people a voice, and to give them agency in their own lives and their futures. Young people are co-creators on all our projects, giving them new and transferable skills in digital media production in the process.

Stats on England's left behind children from Anne Longfield's final speech
Stats on England’s left behind children, slide from Anne Longfield’s final speech
Anne Longfield’s final speech as Children’s Commissioner for England

During her six-year tenure as Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne has been a brilliant champion for children. She made time to connect with Make (Good) Trouble and was interviewed by our young reporter Lola, and later by a group of teens who answered Anne’s questions.

Lola interviews Anne Longfield

Anne’s focus has been to listen to the voices of young people, and particularly vulnerable children such as those in care or those in detention “in secure children’s homes, secure training centre, young offenders institutions, mental health wards and other residential placements, either for their own safety or the safety of others”. Her focus on building up good data on children has shone a light on those in poverty or at risk of being drawn into gangs and county lines. “Vulnerable children stay in the ‘its too difficult’ box”, she said, adding, “people in charge of the system, don’t understand the needs of children”.

Impacts of the pandemic on children: slide from Anne Longfield’s final speech
Liv, Jude, Lola and Gemma answer Anne Longfield’s questions

If you have time, we also recommend you listen to this podcast episode where Anne speaks to children involved with Football Beyond Borders – a fantastic organisation who help children who are struggling at school by using their passion for football to engage them and improve their life chances.

Find out more about the work of the Children’s Commissioner:

The Children’s Commissioner of England website
Follow Anne Longfield on Twitter
Follow The Children’s Commissioner on Twitter
Follow The Children’s Commissioner on Facebook
Subscribe to The Children’s Commissioner on YouTube

We’re really chuffed to see our First World War project, We Are Poppy, featured on the Heritage Fund website – alongside other brilliant projects – if you’re looking for something to feed your brain and soul, there are some amazing online events, workshops, videos and podcasts listed, many created by community-focused organisations like Make (Good) Trouble.

We Are Poppy was co-created by teens and was completed during the pandemic – much of it through Zoom workshops and brainstorms. Our team worked incredibly hard and created a thoughtful, innovative and insightful project that opened a window on the lives of women living through the First World War, looking into how women’s experiences affected their mental heath. These are the hidden histories of that war.

Other projects from the list include Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre’s live daily dolphin watch (5am to 11pm) and Alexandra Palace’s free online photography project for young people aged 16-24 (you can sign up now!).

Huge thanks to the Heritage Fund and, if you play the National Lottery, thanks to you too. Your contribution made this project possible.

Teen in WW1 and modern dress

Congratulations to Brighton & Hove Year 11 students receiving GCSE results today. We’ve teamed up with Storythings to make this film especially for Year 11s. It features a new poem, ‘Extraordinary’ by Brighton Festival guest director Lemn Sissay MBE, together with messages from your schools.

This film was made by Storythings and Make (Good) Trouble with support from Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton & Hove Music & Arts. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Results Day Live Q&A

If you have questions about next steps for students moving on to college, whether to take exams in September or going back into education after lockdown, we’re hosting a live Q&A with educational specialist Jo Heywood on Facebook tonight (Thursday 20th) at 7pm. Do join us there and let us know if you have any questions for the Live event in advance by posting a comment here or on our Facebook page. See you there!

In our second episode of Raising Teens, we’re looking at home schooling and education in lockdown. With lockdown set to continue for most young people, we explore what is life like for families and teens who have had exams cancelled and aren’t sure what happens next. We look at what support is available for students who have limited access to technology – 700,000 children don’t have a laptop or tablet of their own and 60,000 don’t have access to broadband in the UK. Some have no quiet space at home to work in. And when schools do re-open more fully, how comfortable are parents with sending their children back there?

Our guests, speaking to host, Guy Lloyd, are Rose Scott, counsellor at Hove Park school, Dr Kerstyn Comley, founder of the MeeTwo app and Matt Dumbledon, a father and part of the team at Dad La Soul, a grassroots community to support dads.

Teen reporter, Lola Ray, spoke to teens about how they were getting on with studying from home, how much time they spent on their school work and how they think the pandemic and lockdown might affect their future.

Dr Kerstyn Comley talks about anxiety on Raising Teens

You can hear Raising Teens on BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey at 7.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and online on BBC Sounds.

🔊 Listen to Lockdown Home Schooling on BBC Sounds

🔊 Listen to last week’s show on Anxiety in a Pandemic on BBC Sounds

Help and advice

NSPCC support and advice for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) 

Place 2 Be information on schools and education during the pandemic 

NHS mental health support for young people 

Young Minds advice and tips for young people who are self isolating

MeeTwo is a free fully moderated app for young people, providing peer support, expert help, educational and creative resources as well as links to UK charities and helplines.

The Student Room, coronavirus-related advice and support for students

Kooth, an online mental wellbeing community