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Against a backdrop of societal change, the fight to give voice to children and young people’s needs continued, culminating with the Children Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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Putting children's voices at the heart of Parliament

We were instrumental in the creation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children, a group of around 100 MPs and Peers interested in issues affecting children and young people, for which we remain the Secretariat.
Learn more about our work with the APPGC here.

Young experts by experience outside Parliament ahead of an APPGC event on children's social care in November 2022.
A group of five young people standing in front of Big Ben


Recognising the importance of early education

We formed the leading resource centre and think-tank for under-fives in Britain, the Under Fives Unit, later to become the Early Childhood Unit (ECU), as a national centre for advice, guidance and information on current practice. In 2013, ECU launched Making it REAL, NCB’s most delivered programme that supports early years practitioners to boost early literacy and development.

You can read more about the work of the ECU here and find out more about the Making it REAL training here here.

Insights from a former President

Listen to Baroness Faithfull, President of NCB from 1984 to 1996, in conversation with Rebecca Abrams in 1989, discussing her involvement with us at the very beginning, how the NCB supported her own work first as a social worker and then in the House of Lords, and the founding of the Under Fives Unit (later to become the Early Childhood Unit). CREDIT: Lucy Faithfull interviewed by Rebecca Abrams 1989-1990, Leaders of National Life, reference C408/013 © British Library Board. Listen to the full recording on British Library Sounds

Lucy Faithfull


A major public health crisis for young people

In 1986, the government launched its hard-hitting AIDS: Don't Die of Ignorance campaign, as then health secretary Norman Fowler believed that "millions and millions" of people could potentially become infected. Prior to Covid, it was the UK's largest ever public health campaign and had a profound impact on young people's attitudes to sex. As Fowler himself in a Guardian interview from 2017 put it: "There was no point spending a load of money to send out innocuous adverts. We did follow-up research that said 90% of the public recognised the advert and a vast number changed their behaviour because of it.... I’ve heard it said that the advert was so scary it put a whole generation off having sex. Well I don’t think there’s any evidence that it actually did! What I do know is that I get letters from time to time from people who say thank you – that it saved their life. In politics, you don’t get that sort of letter very often."

Front cover of leaflet that reads AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance
This leaflet was delivered to every household in the UK, as the government launched its largest ever (pre-covid) public health campaign. CREDIT: AIDS : don't die of ignorance : government information 1987 / issued by the Department of Health and Social Security

Giving young people a voice on relationships and sex education

We launched the Sex Education Forum in response to “moral panic” in the media over AIDS and young people’s sexuality, alongside seven other organisations and associations. Part of the NCB family until April 2021 when it established itself as an independent charity, the Sex Education Forum was instrumental in bringing about statutory relationships and sex education in schools in September 2020.

Newspaper article with the headline Team-up move against abuse
This comment from the Sunday Mirror highlights the national role we played in supporting the sector to improve systems protecting children and young people and ensuring that the rights and needs of children should always be paramount. CREDIT: Reach Licensing on behalf of Mirror Group Newspapers

Supporting the sector to help the most vulnerable children

Inquiries that resulted from child abuse scandals in the 1980s, including the deaths of Jasmine Beckford, Kimberley Carlile as well the Cleveland abuse scandal directly influenced the implementation of the 1989 Children Act.


Princess Di makes a birthday visit

Diana, Princess of Wales, visited NCB to mark our 25th anniversary and was met by our then Director Ronald Davie and President Baroness Faithfull before being presented with bedtime books for Princes William and Harry.

Newspaper article with the headline Bedtime Gift for Di
The movements of Princess Diana were always of keen interest to the press so it was no surprise this moment was captured by the Daily Mirror. CREDIT: Reach Licensing on behalf of Mirror Group Newspapers


Putting the needs of all children first

The Children Act 1989 established the legislative framework for the current child protection system in England and Wales. it sets out the paramouncy principle - that the welfare of the child should be the court's main consideration.

In an article for Children & Young People Now in 2019 marking the 30 year anniversary of The Children Act, our CEO Anna Feuchtwang wrote that "The passing of the 1989 Act marked a commitment to a series of vital principles. These principles must be championed for the next 30 years and beyond or we will not meet the needs of children and families, leaving them trapped and isolated. We knew this 30 years ago, we know this now. We must keep the promises we made to our children."

Anna Feuchtwang, CEO of NCB since 2014.
Anna Feuchtwang, CEO of NCB since 2014.

Shaping life-changing legislation for families

Through intensive lobbying, we played a key role in shaping the Children Act, generally regarded as the most wide-ranging reform of childcare law of the 20th century, which among other things transferred responsibility for disabled children from the NHS to local authorities. For the first time, disabled children were treated as children first and foremost, rather than a list of health conditions.