Monday, 10 December 2007

Looking for a great place to bring up the kids? Try Leeds

This was in the Observer on Sunday December 09 2007..

Looking for a great place to bring up the kids, try Leeds. '4Children' which used to be called Kids' Club Network has done the resaearch and...

"Cambridge and Leeds are two of the best places for children to grow up, while Northampton is one of the worst, according to a report out today. Researchers looked at factors such as school results, leisure centre facilities and the number of parks to rank areas for child-friendliness. The charity 4Children, which produced the report, believes the creation of safe neighbourhoods where young people can play outdoors should be at the heart of government plans to improve childhood. In many of the poorest areas of Britain, there are no safe playgrounds and children play in streets where traffic is heavy.

Anne Longfield, chief executive of the charity, which campaigns for more community help for families, said the government had been putting childhood high on its agenda but warned there were still large inequalities. 'Those families that are affluent are able to buy houses in areas deemed to be good to bring up children,' she said. 'But those who do not have that ability and rely on social housing have to make do with what they have got.'

Cambridge scored highly because there are a number of parks and open spaces, and it is pedestrian and cycle friendly. Leeds has eight health centres which cater for those from the least and most affluent areas. Specialist services reach out to the most disadvantaged families and provide affordable childcare.

Anne Longfield said regeneration in deprived areas had been occurring for decades, but the focus was on buildings and roads. 'That is important, but if we want places to flourish we need to start with families and children.'

The charity has called for every local and national policy to be 'child-proofed', so that their impact on children is taken into account. 4Children found that what parents wanted most was support when their children were young, including centres where they could get advice and meet other parents.

Anne went on to say: 'They want communities where families are valued, where there are lots of kids who are welcomed into restaurants and shops and have access to good playgrounds and parks.' What they did not want, she added, were 'signs that say "no kids" or "this is not a playground". These things indicate the culture of the community.'

The best and the worst
The most child-friendly places:
Somerset, Leeds, Cambridge
The least child-friendly:
Northampton, Blackpool, Merthyr Tydfil
Child-friendly but needs improvement:

You can find out more by visiting

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