NYAS, in partnership with Exeter University and the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) have joined forces to create The Rights Idea, a short video and infographic. The Rights Idea follows the separation journeys of two families to explore young people’s rights to information, consultation and (where needed) representation when their parents separate. It recounts a young boy’s experience of meeting with the mediator who helped his parents to negotiate matters following separation. It also details the experience of his neighbours; Chloe, Jack and Rosie whose parents settled in court, following use of a contact centre as a steppingstone for contact between the youngest child, Rosie and her dad.

The video and infographic will assist organisations tasked with supporting young people whose parents separate, as well in PSHE lessons in schools as part of the rebranded Relationships and Sex Education curriculum. You can see the full video here, or the condensed version here.

The project was developed as a spin off from the work of the Private Law Family Solutions Group report ‘What About Me? Reframing Family Support When Parents Separate’. The report was published in November 2020 and provides a blueprint for a comprehensive change of focus in private law proceedings. As members of the Family Solutions Group, NYAS were able to draw on their many years of experience to inform the recommendations for a framework of children’s rights-based services of information, consultation and representation.

The Children’s Act 1989 and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child provide a framework for decision-making which respects the rights of children to be consulted (should they wish to be) when decisions are made about their lives following parental separation. These are fundamental rights, yet few children in England or Wales are consulted.

NYAS founder and trustee, Judith Timms said, “’Each year around 280,000 children experience the painful process of parental separation. Many feel powerless and bewildered by the changes that are taking place in their family and yet it is striking how few services exist for them and how little direct access to information is available, particularly in schools. ‘The Rights Idea’ video and infographic are a practical initiative to address that deficit. It explains the rights of children and young people within the parental decision-making processes and provides signposting to NYAS and other sources of help and support’