Putting children and young people first in the family courts

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"I can just see myself letting other kids wear my wig"

 

At nine years old, Oscar is one of the youngest members of the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB). He’s had a busy summer helping to organise the Voice of the Child conference and enjoying a holiday at the beach in Minehead.

But he’s itching to get back to school, where he loves studying English and Maths. “I’ve been missing school if I’m honest,” says Oscar. Maths is his favourite subject, because “there’s always just one specific answer.”

 

He hasn’t stopped learning during his break from school. “I went to a mad science club a couple of weeks ago,” he explains. “It was mainly working on helium and balloons.” As well as studying, he likes to read and play games on his tablet: “Now I’m reading a book about a 13-year-old whose parents are lawyers. He basically goes around helping with law issues – he’s a mini lawyer.”

 

Oscar likes the idea of being a lawyer when he’s older. His meeting with Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, gave him a glimpse of what he could do in the future. “Being on the Board has made me want to get a job as a judge or a barrister to help kids like me,” he explains. “I can just see myself letting other kids wear my wig.”

 

Importantly, Oscar feels that his experiences in the family justice system and work with the Board can help other children like him – that’s why listening to the voice of the child is so important.

 

“Because I know in my own experiences what it’s like to have your parents go to court, I think the kids would be able to relate to me because I’ve had similar experience.”

 

The Family Justice Young People’s Board has been an exciting experience for Oscar, but he admits that joining the Board was a big decision to make.

 

“When my mum told me about it I was thinking, ‘should I join or should I not?’ I wasn’t that sure at the time,” he says. “But when I had my first commission there I was just thinking ‘I wanna do this!’”

 

Oscar’s first project was to help organise this year’s Voice of the Child conference. At the event, he stood on stage in front of all of the guests and read out the Board’s top tips for respecting diversity and inclusion. “I loved it,” he recalls. “At the start I was nervous but as I gradually went along I just kept telling myself ‘I can do this!’”

 

The conference had a superhero theme, and Oscar chose ‘the Calculating Clown’ as his superhero name to match his love of Maths. “Superheroes are something that many children can relate to because of comics and toys. It’s a very child-friendly thing.”

 

Oscar has another good reason for choosing the superhero theme, too: “I see many members of the Board as superheroes because we all make a difference." As well as helping children throughout the country during their journey through the family justice system, the Board lets Oscar spend time with other people with similar experiences. “It felt like I belonged there,” he says. “All of my friends at school haven’t had issues with their parents going to court. But with the Board I feel like I belong.”

 

 

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