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Young Lives, Big Ambitions

Transforming Life Chances for Vulnerable Children and Teens
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Society is failing our children. But we can do better.

A difficult home life. A missed diagnosis. Exploitation. A disrupted education. Falling in with a 'bad' crowd. Every year thousands of children fall through the cracks in our society and become victims of a destructive cycle.

As Commissioner for Children in England, Anne Longfield CBE witnessed the devastating effects of this cycle as young people were failed by the systems that were supposed to protect them.

Young Lives, Big Ambitions is a manifesto for change. It's an action plan to fix our broken system and give every young person a fair chance in life.
  • Published: Apr 18 2024
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 9781839972805
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Press Reviews

  • James Mitchinson, Editor of The Yorkshire Post

    As a boy from a mining community who, as the pits shut, saw friends and acquaintances sucked into a spiral of emotional and financial decline - some going to prison, some dying as a result - I have come to regret that Anne Longfield was not there to help others help them. But she is here, now. Here with a profound vision for young people; one that represents a beacon of hope for the future of this country; one that cannot be ignored.
  • Josh MacAlister, Chair, Foundations

    Exposing the crisis facing many teenagers, and setting out the road-map to get young people's lives back. This book shines a spotlight on a murky and complex mix of problems, and it brings clarity and urgency to what we should do about it.
  • Esther Rantzen

    Anne Longfield was an outstanding Children's Commissioner for England because she saw and listened to children who are all too often unseen, unheard and ignored, those in care, for instance, and those with mental health needs. Since leaving that role she has continued to throw a spotlight on our most vulnerable young people, for instance, pointing out the damage to them caused by Covid, and the dangers of violence, grooming, exclusion, addiction and crime. This book brings together these children's voices, analyses where and how we are failing to protect them, and gives examples of excellent practice that could and should be reproduced around the country. It makes the case for investing in our children, listening to them, and ensuring that care really does mean care. I hope this book will inspire us all to face the challenge of protecting and supporting young people. Our future depends on them.
  • Jason Farrell, Home Editor, Sky News

    Anne Longfield not only shines a piercingly bright light into the dark, disturbing world of child vulnerability, neglect, exploitation, and our failure to protect our children, but also shows us a way out of what she so eloquently conveys as "nothing short of a national emergency." This is a shocking, compelling and important read. Longfield's 35 years' experience in child protection shine through, along with the curiosity and compassion that has made her the leading voice in this field. Inside these pages are radical proposals to combat urgent problems where "young lives are at stake." This could be the blueprint to improving the life-chances of future generations.
  • Baroness Louise Casey

    This book provides a clear, ambitious and much needed road map for any government serious about supporting vulnerable children to succeed.
  • Steve Chalke, Founder, Oasis UK

    Anne Longfield is a tireless champion for children and young people. Her book makes a powerful case for changing how we support those who are most at risk of exploitation or serious violence. It shows how bringing together all of the different systems that should be there to support young people - family support, schools, mental health services, youth work - is the key to building stronger communities and supporting every young person to succeed. Those in power should read it!
  • Vic Goddard (Educating Essex), CEO of Passmores Cooperative Learning Community

    Anne was never afraid to speak uncomfortable truth to power in her Children's Commissioner role and in 'Young Lives' she continues to be a passionate advocate for young people. There are times the stark reality of some young people's lived experiences are hard to read but the shared examples of organisations that are already making a positive difference give us hope for the future. Thanks for writing this difficult book Anne. This is a must read for those wishing to improve young lives across the country.
  • Rachel Sylvester, The Times

    Few people have done more to champion the vulnerable children who fall through the gaps in society than Anne Longfield. This is a powerful, moving and ultimately uplifting account of young lives tragically wasted and how they can be turned around
  • Cathy Newman, Channel 4 News

    Britain's young people have no more powerful advocate than Anne Longfield. Young Lives, Big Ambitions is a powerful wake-up call for political leaders and a devastating critique of inaction to date. Longfield is uniquely placed to document the failures of politics and policy, and to write a manifesto for change. It should echo down the corridors of Whitehall for generations.
  • Mark Russell, Chief Executive The Children's Society

    Life is just too hard for too many children. Too many face delays for support with their mental health, or live in poverty, or are groomed and exploited by criminals. Anne Longfield has given her life to supporting children, and she shines a light on how we are failing too many children, and she offers a blueprint for radical change. She is absolutely right, we need a bold new strategy that invests in children, and prioritises their wellbeing. Anne is right, we must be ambitious for every child so they thrive not just survive. This book is a must read for every MP.