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Sixty years old. Forever young.

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An interactive journey through more than six decades of making a difference for children and young people.


The 1960s was a decade of rapid change, as Britain finally began to move on from the trauma of the Second World War and to look forward and embrace freedom and new ways of thinking. That included exploring new theories about child development and seeking a greater understanding of the needs of all children.

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Disrupted by industrial unrest and economic crises, the 1970s contrasted sharply with the mood of freedom that characterised the previous decade. Yet in terms of improvements to the lives of children and young people, there were still reasons for optimism, not least in disability rights, where political and social campaigns resulted in welcome statutory protection and the beginnings of a shift towards a more inclusive society.

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After the disruption and difficulties of the 1970s, the 1980s offered new opportunities for change - both in technology and ways of thinking - which had a major impact on culture and society. Against this backdrop, the fight to give children and young people a voice continued, culminating in 1989 with the introduction of the Children Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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Following a decade of profound social and economic change, the 1990s saw an embrace of newness: New Labour, New Lads and Ladettes, new technology… this was "New Britain". But existing inequalities continued and, in many cases, deepened further. For children and young people, demand was growing for access to more relevant information and resources on issues such as relationships and sex education, immigration, cultural identity and disability rights.

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The 2000s saw major investment in public services, much of which was funded through public-private partnerships, and an unprecedented take-up of a new(ish) technology: the internet. UK users grew from 15m in 2000 to 51m by 2010. The decade was also marked by major changes in child protection regulation following a series of tragic cases, including the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié.

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A tumultuous decade of political change, the 2010s began with the UK's first hung parliament since 1974, continued with the country voting to leave the European Union and another hung parliament, and ended with a brief prorogation of Parliament and the fourth general election of the decade. For an increasing number of families, the main focus amidst these upheavals was keeping heads above water as levels of child poverty rose sharply.

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A decade which will be forever remembered for the global Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented public health restrictions that resulted, putting further pressure on health and social care systems already struggling to the meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people.

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