New Children’s Commissioner for England shares first message as she begins her term

Dame Rachel de Souza begins her tenure as Children’s Commissioner for England, taking over from Anne Longfield who has assumed the role since 2015.

Dame Rachel de Souza shares her first message as Children’s Commissioner for England today, saying “there isn’t a moment to lose” for those working with children.

In a post shared on her website, the former head teacher said: “Part of adulthood is having the right answers to big questions. Ultimately, that is what children expect of us – having answers to things. Some might not even be able to say it yet, but that’s what they expect.”

“Only, over the past year, and perhaps for longer than that, having the right answers has – for all of us – seemed harder than before. To face a new pandemic is to be returned to a state of child-like innocence yourself, of having to learn everything anew,” De Souza wrote.

De Souza said that she has “seen first-hand the effect of this crisis on young people’s hopes and dreams,” adding that sometimes “it has felt like our answers simply haven’t been good enough.”

Commenting on the timing of her assumption of the role, De Souza said “If you work with children, it is tempting to see our current predicament as daunting,” adding: “perhaps, but it is also a huge opportunity.”

Previous Children’s Commissioners have also started at momentous times in recent history with Maggie Atkinson starting in the wake of the financial crash and Anne Longfield, De Souza’s immediate predecessor, beginning her tenure in 2015 before the Brexit vote.

De Souza praised those in the role before her for managing to “keep a political focus on the needs of children”, saying the challenges of 2021 are even greater.

De Souza said – in terms of economic, social and cultural shocks, and deaths – that this is “a post-war generation in all but name.”

Referencing previous post-war achievements such as the creation of the NHS and UNICEF, De Souza said she wanted to see “not just a golden age of policy-making, but a golden age of delivery.”

“Before each young person, full of questions, is an uncertain future,” the message read. “Before all of us, for better or worse, a new world and a new England. There isn’t a moment to lose.”

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