COVENTRY City Council is holding what is believed to be a UK first – a Citizenship Ceremony for children and young people.
Becoming a British Citizen is a significant milestone and whilst there is an official ceremony for adults to mark the occasion, there isn’t one for children and young people.
A research study conducted by the University of Wolverhampton estimates that there are approximately 215,000 undocumented children and 117,000 undocumented young people currently living in the United Kingdom.
It’s believed that half of these undocumented children were born here, whilst most have been educated in the UK and speak English as their main language.
However, all lack the security provided by British citizenship or, at least, secure immigration status.
The implications of this insecurity can be far reaching and profound, with the practical, social, and economic impacts reverberating in the every-day lives of children and young people.
One of the lasting legacies of the MiFriendly Cities project is Coventry City Council’s pledge to recognise the importance of citizenship to young people and children.
To honour and make Coventry’s commitment visual, the ceremony recognises the importance of British Citizenship to children and young people.
Highlighting the importance of the ceremony, deputy cabinet member for policing and equalities, Councillor Pervez Akhtar, said: “Children and young people around the world deserve to grow up without the burden of insecure immigration status hanging over their heads, so that they – and their families – are able to live peaceful, and prosperous lives as fully integrated and valued members of the community.
“This is why we’re holding – in collaboration with our partner organisations – the UK’s first known citizenship ceremony for children and young people, to highlight and recognise the importance of citizenship in landmark ceremonies such as this.
“We hope that this event will mark the start of an annual ceremony that celebrates and honours Coventry’s newly registered British citizen children.”
Organised in conjunction with several individuals and partner organisations which include City of Culture, Coventry City Council Register Officer, KIND UK at Central England Law Centre, Parkgate Primary School, Foxford School & Community Arts College and Earlsdon Primary School, the event will take place on the 27th of October.
As part of the afternoon, Little Amal – the 3.5m high refugee girl travelling over 8,000km across Europe to the UK, representing all displaced children who are often separated from their families – will be meeting the families, embodying the urgent and poignant message, ‘don’t forget about us’.
Attending and presenting certificates on the day will be Lord Mayor, Councillor John McNicholas, and the Lord Mayoress, June McNicholas.