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Keeping children’s rights at the forefront of everything we do

Colleagues working in all services are continuing to put young people’s rights front and centre.

It is everyone’s responsibility to follow The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – to ensure that all children’s rights are respected and that they are free to learn, play and develop.

This Convention – the gold standard for children’s rights and the blueprint for the Council – lists everything children are entitled to, from being given a name at birth and an education to good health care and protection from neglect.

And various Council services have recently shown how they meet their responsibility to protect the rights of our children on a daily basis.

Here, we shine a light on three different services and how staff are ensuring young people and their rights are being respected.

At St John Ogilvie Primary School, in Bourtreehill, Irvine, Early Years Practitioner Anne Sommerville has set up a Donation Station in response to feedback from mums and dads who said they needed a little extra support due to the Cost-of-Living Crisis.

Anne started the project with just one rail of clothes and now has five rails of clothing as well as food on offer.

Anne said: “Starting the Station was in response to finding out that parents have been struggling in recent months due to the Cost-of-Living Crisis.

“The rising costs of food, clothes and life in general is what sparked the project.

“I thought it would be great idea to start a Donation Station. It started off as one rail and some food. I have parents coming in and using it all the time.”

There are now clothes for children, teenagers and adults as well as shoes, some bags and nappies.

Awareness is being raised among Council staff that whatever service you work in – not just education or social work, for example, but also planning, housing, regeneration and others – you must think about children aged up to 18 when making decisions or creating policy.

You can find out more about the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child on the website: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – UNICEF UK

Article 27 of the Convention states: “Every child has the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and social needs and support their development. Governments must help families who cannot afford to provide this.”

The Donation Station, which also saves waste gong to landfill by recycling, is a great example of this, and is open to everyone in the community.

The school is always looking for donations, which will be greatly appreciated, and will take items including children’s clothes, adults clothes, shoes, nappies and food.

The Donation Station is open on Wednesdays, and you can find it at the Early Years Entrance at the school.

To donate items, please contact the school to arrange a drop-off time by calling 01294 218823 or emailing

English classes are helping to transform refugee children’s lives in schools across North Ayrshire as they settle into different communities.

Pupils who come from places including Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria are being helped to integrate into life here in Scotland thanks to our English as an Additional Language (EAL) service.

Article 29 of the Convention relates to the goals of education and states: “Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full.”

Teaching children whose first language isn’t English to speak, read, write and communicate so they can learn – and play – is a great example their education rights being respected.

Victoria Douglas, who teaches English as an Additional Language (EAL) in various North Ayrshire schools, gives pupils one-to-one sessions to help improve their reading, writing and vocabulary and also supports their class teachers.

She works with children at Cumbrae Primary School in Millport, where there are eight Ukrainian pupils, including sisters Milana (10) and Polina (9) who speak Ukrainian.

Victoria said: “The lessons in English are really important, particularly for children newly arrived in Scotland.  It enables them to access the curriculum and make friends.

“Children come to us with a different range of backgrounds and levels of English, so we get into schools as soon as possible to try and assess their levels of English and support them and their class teachers to make sure that they can make progress, and feel happy and included in all the lessons at school.

“It’s really important for schools to respect the rights of children and, obviously, all of them do and we support them in doing that.

“It means children can access education – every child has the right to a good education – and also that they can play, which is really important. They have the right to play, make friends and be happy.”

Pupils are being given great support to overcome language barriers that prevent them from taking full advantage of the Council’s education system.

Sporty girls from the New Scot community are kicking language into touch while they learn the rules of the beautiful game.

Up to 20 young women are involved with The Swans FC, which was originally started to help the group work towards Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

The football team, made up of Afghan and Syrian girls of secondary school age, meets at Kilwinning Football Academy weekly with coaches from North Ayrshire Council and the Academy putting them through their paces at training.

Article 22 of the Convention states that “if a child is seeking refuge or has refugee status” then governments must “help them enjoy all the rights of the Convention.”

The Swans FC is a great example of young people’s rights being respected.

Lucy Russell, New Scots Locality Link Worker with the Council’s Connected Communities service, set the team up and explained: “There was a desire within this group of girls, who are all high school pupils, to learn how to play football.

“The conversation started through the work they were doing to attain a Duke of Edinburgh Award, because they needed to get involved in sport, and it developed from there.

“It is wonderful to see them on the pitch, interacting, getting exercise and fresh air, meeting friends and improving their English language skills.”

The players also get help with work experience, college applications, confidence-building workshops and support at school.

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