More than being heard: how to include children and young people in post-COVID policymaking

In the second of our series of events with the Social Market Foundation, we learned about how we can build back better after COVID-19 by including children and young people in policymaking.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep inequalities and spurred a conversation about what matters in society and how we would like to rebuild the country after the crisis. With evidence showing that children and young people have been disproportionately impacted by the disruptions caused by the pandemic, there are concerns that a whole generation could be left behind. As policymakers seek solutions to help mitigate these impacts, how can we ensure that children and young people are key stakeholders in decision making about their futures? What practical steps can policymakers take to ensure that, as well as being heard, young people are more actively included in the policymaking process?

At the event we heard from Dr Deborah Ralls from the Manchester Institute of Education, whose research focuses on how education policy could be redefined to create more inclusive urban decision-making processes. She discussed the importance of considering children and young people as the experts of their own lives and why it is essential that any attempts to build back better adopt a collective approach, which includes children and young people as key stakeholders in core urban decision-making processes. We also heard from Daniel Lawes, Founder and Chair of YouthPolitics UK; Andrew Bowie MP, Vice Chair of the Conservative Party and Joe Seddon, Trustee of the British Youth Council.


  • Dr Deborah Ralls, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, The University of Manchester
  • Andrew Bowie MP, Vice Chair of the Conservative Party & Member of Parliament for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
  • Dan Lawes,  Founder and Chair, YouthPolitics UK
  • Joe Seddon, CEO of Zero Gravity & Trustee, British Youth Council
  • James Kirkup, Director, Social Market Foundation (Chair)


This event was recorded on 30 March 2021.