Published Tuesday, 26 October 2021

City Council is holding what is believed to be a UK first – a Citizenship Ceremony for children and young people.

Radwan family
Radwan family

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.

Family life, employment prospects, social networks, friendships, housing, access to medical help and justice are all areas affected by lack of security in immigration status.

And as children and young people begin to transition into adulthood, the risk that they may be excluded from work or higher education, or in more serious circumstances are sent to a country they’ve never lived in or visited, becomes increasingly possible.

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.

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 27 of October.

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.

“There are many children and young people around the country that have lived here almost their entire lives and yet still lack the security that citizenship or at least secure immigration status provides.

“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”.

“I am very much looking forward to being a part of such a special occasion and celebrating with the families who now call Coventry – and the UK – their home”.

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.

Also attending is Deputy Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities, Councillor Pervez Akhtar, Deputy Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Becky Gittens, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Councillor David Welsh, Chief Superintendent Peter Henrick, Head of Migration and Library Services, Peter Barnett CBE and many more.

The schedule for the ceremony is as follows:

  • 4.30pm: Children and families meet ‘Amal’ at Cathedral ruins and present her with a certificate.
  • 5.00pm: Children and families will be led to hospitality suite for the start of the official ceremony.
  • 5:15pm: Lord Mayor along with Lady Mayoress will present the certificates to the children.
  • 5:45pm: Buffet for children, families, and guests after which everyone is welcome at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum Foyer for a celebration of Little Amal’s journey through Coventry.
  • 7:45pm: Children/families/guests are invited to the evening show in the Cathedral Ruins.

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