Championing a better future for children

YOUNG people need and deserve better care and resources than we give them if they are to flourish – that s the view of the new children s champion for North Herts, who intends to change things in the future. Cllr Sarah Wren, who has taken on the role for

YOUNG people need and deserve better care and resources than we give them if they are to flourish - that's the view of the new children's champion for North Herts, who intends to change things in the future.

Cllr Sarah Wren, who has taken on the role for the district council, is passionate about youngsters and their needs.

She has four children of her own ranging in age from four to almost 18 and has experienced many of the problems motherhood can pose. She still finds young people a joy to be with and is voluntary company secretary at the Caldicott Youth Centre in Hitchin as well as working as a business lecturer at North Hertfordshire College's Hitchin site, often dealing with disadvantaged students who face problems at home.

They find a firm advocate in Cllr Wren who believes strongly that young people can blossom and progress with the right support.

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"I really don't think we serve our young people well very often," she said.

"They are sometimes seen as being a problem rather than an incredibly important part of our society.

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"It is a great shame we don't provide things that they need to enjoy being young."

She intends to work with officers at the council and with youth organisations of all kinds to raise the profile of youngsters and provide more facilities for them.

"I want to speak on their behalf and assist in any way I can," she said.

Surveys carried out by North Herts District Council consistently show that residents rate better facilities for young people as a priority.

"This is what people say and it is really important that we commit to making this happen in any way we possibly can," said Cllr Wren, who represents the Highbury ward in Hitchin for the Conservative Party.

"Youngsters need a place they can go and feel safe, where they have ownership and things to do that they can enjoy, where the adults involved genuinely enjoy their company and want to be involved.

"Society is not what it used to be - I grew up in Ickleford and played in the fields and didn't come back until it was dark.

"It was a very different world. That is not considered a safe option now.

"Young people are desperate for things they can do and places they can go.

"When they don't have these alternatives they end up going out drinking, sometimes getting involved in anti-social behaviour, worrying their parents into the ground.

"Part of it is because we as adults don't take responsibility for providing what they need."

Cllr Wren would like anyone interested in working with young people or children to contact her or the council's children's services team.

The council can help in a wide variety of ways, from pointing someone in the right direction to giving advice on getting grants, providing training or offering support through its expert staff.

"We have a wonderful team here working on behalf of youngsters," said Cllr Wren.

"They are so hard working, enthusiastic and very committed. They have a genuine desire to make things better for young people and children in this area.

"The voluntary sector is doing incredible things too and the council is determined to really help them. We want to offer support to parents as well because parenting can be the hardest job you ever do.

"If people tell us there's an issue we can work with that, but we need them to tell us, we need to hear from people.

"Please don't think there's no point and that things won't happen, because they can and they do."

With such a passionate and determined advocate at the helm, life could be looking far more positive for youngsters in the North Herts area in the future.

To contact Cllr Wren, call her on 01462 620886. The children's services team is on 01462 474000.

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