Barnardo’s chief executive praises Salford youth group
A group of young people have been praised as ‘inspirational’ by former University of Salford student Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s.
Mr Khan, who studied at the university in the 1980s, returned to give the first Salford Alumni Lecture, in which successful Salford graduates deliver a lecture on their area of expertise to an audience of current students, staff and members of the community.
The chief executive, who has 30 years’ experience in the UK public and voluntary sectors, and who previously headed up Victim Support, delivered a lecture on Wednesday 9 March entitled No Child Left Behind – Transforming Life Chances For 150 Years.
He said the members of ‘Fight for Change’, Salford’s Children in Care Council, are ‘fighting for a better future for themselves and for others. They are truly inspirational’.
Fight for Change Council is a way for young people in Salford to have an opportunity to have a voice, share ideas, make changes, build their self-esteem and confidence, learn new skills, have fun and make new friends.
They meet every two weeks to discuss important issues, such as mental health support, and are looking at ways to ensure the support reaches children and young people across the borough when it is most needed.
Mr Khan said: “These young people have been to Westminster and spoken to MPs and policy makers, and they have the ear of local councillors in Salford – they really are making a positive change for children and young people generally, both here in Salford and at a national level.
“They don’t duck the issues. They are talking about mental health, what they need from the education system and how they can support and help not just themselves – but others too. It’s about making new friends, learning new skills and it’s about building their self-confidence and self-esteem, but above all it’s about how they are giving themselves and their peers a voice in their future.”
He said their work had inspired him and others working for Barnardo’s, which is now celebrating its 150th anniversary, and which last year transformed the lives of more than 240,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable children, young people and their families.
Luke, aged 18, one of the members of the Fight for Change Council who attended the event, said: “It was great to meet the Chief Executive of a fantastic charity, and to have our work recognised by him is very important.”
The university’s School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Care, is involved in research into improving the help and support that is available to vulnerable children, while the university also helps children who have been in care to progress into higher education.
The Salford Advantage Bursaries scheme, funded by donations from alumni, staff and supporters, provides financial help to students, including care leavers, who may otherwise have been unable to go on to study in higher education.
Brian Boag, Dean of the university’s School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Care, said: “The work that Barnardo’s does in helping vulnerable young people is recognised widely across the caring professions, many of whom are trained here in Salford.
“It was wonderful for so many of our students and staff to meet a former student who has helped make a difference, but also inspirational to hear him praise a local group of children.”