Category Archives: Community

UK Children’s Commissioners

4xCC collageEach of the four UK Children’s Commissioners are active on social media, making it easy to follow what they are thinking and doing.

Many countries have a Children’s Ombudsman responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children and young people, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). An Ombudsman may also be referred to as a Child Advocate, or, as in the UK, as a Children’s Commissioner. The UK has four Commissioners, one each for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I find it valuable to follow them on social media as they provide a well-informed perspective on current issues affecting children. Here are the four individual UK Commissioners.

Anne Longfield OBE became the Children’s Commissioner for England in March 2015. Prior to this, Anne was chief executive of 4Children – a national charity which works to support children, young people and families. Anne can be followed through these channels:
Facebook: officeofthechildrenscommissioner
Twitter: @annelongfield (individual) & @ChildrensComm (official). The official account is busier and has many more followers.

Tam Baillie has been Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People since May 2009. Tam had previously been Director of Policy for Barnardo’s from 2003 to 2009, following 25 years experience as a practitioner and as a manager of services for children and young people and their families. Tam can be followed through these channels:
Facebook: RightsSCCYP
Twitter: @CYPCS
Online newsletter:
Many of Tam’s speeches and presentations are freely available as PDFs from

Dr. Sally Holland became the Children’s Commissioner for Wales in April 2015. Sally was previously an academic at Cardiff University specialising in family and child welfare, and was Director of the Cascade children’s social research centre at the University. Sally can be followed through these channels:
Twitter: @childcomwales (English language) and @complantcymru (Welsh language)

Koulla Yiasouma became the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People in February 2015. Koulla had previously been director of Include Youth, a post she held for 16 years, working tirelessly to improve the experiences of and outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people throughout Northern Ireland. Koulla can be followed through these channels:
Facebook: nichildrenscommissioner
Twitter: @nichildcom (official) and @ShriekingGreek  (individual & informal)

jVVtJFqxThe four UK Children’s Commissioners mostly act through their individual offices, but earlier this year the four UK Children’s Commissioners published a joint report which scrutinises the UK and devolved government’s record on children’s rights over the last seven years. It identifies areas of common concern drawn across the four nations; they include the state of mental health services, child sexual abuse, children in the justice system, the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and repealing the Human Rights Act. You can find the report at each of the Commissioners websites, e.g ‘Report of the UK Children’s Commissioners – UN Committee on the Rights of the Child


New Year OBEs for ‘Netmums’ founders

netmumsSarah Russell, Siobhan Freegard and Cathy Court, the three founders of the parental support website Netmums, received OBEs for services to families in the UK New Year Honours list. Congratulations to each of them, as they have built an excellent community.

Netmums was set up in 2000. It now has over 1.6 million members and alongside the self-help conversations on the forums, trained Parent Supporters or Health Visitors help about 3500 individual mums each month, calling on experts from Relate, Women’s Aid, Contact a Family, Family Rights Group and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Netmums satisfies all the criteria for being classified as a ‘self-educating community’, which Leigh-Anne Perryman and I wrote about in our Public-Facing Open Scholar paper. Netmums also compares favorably to the Facebook groups that I highlighted in May 2013 for being particularly educative. Like the best Facebook groups, Netmums is open for the public to read the forum conversations, and as no Facebook account is needed to view them, Netmums can reach an even wider audience.

I wrote in May 2013 that it is helpful to belong to a community to support your learning, so if you are interested in parenting but don’t yet belong to an online community, Netmums is a very good place to begin.

Ten educative Facebook groups about childhood

librarianbyday at flickr

During our learning journeys about childhood, it is helpful to belong to a community where the subjects are being debated, so that we can experience other people’s viewpoints and put into context what we are studying individually.
Facebook groups can be just as useful for learning as they are for social networking – in fact, it would be hard to avoid learning from many good ones.
Here are ten open Facebook groups that offer good, supportive communities for different aspects of childhood. The list reflects my own interests so it is not comprehensive, but it may be useful to view them as a quality benchmark when looking for groups in the topics you are interested in.

These groups share common characteristics that make them stand out as well-developed communities offering opportunities to learn from others. They are all open; many features clear rules for participation and all the groups are well-moderated by administrators, so there is very little spam. In addition, the groups often include an archive of topical resources in the ‘files’ tab, and each features a range of members participating and contributing to discussions.

If you don’t yet  belong to a community that supports your individual learning and development, any of the groups listed above would be a good place to start.