Gypsy teen plays key part in new policy for children's services in Cambridgeshire from www.cambridge-news.co.uk
A TEENAGER from the gypsy community in Huntingdon has played a key part in helping to draw up a new policy for children's services across Cambridgeshire.
Billy Smith, 13, a student at Hinchingbrooke School, made suggestions for the plan being drawn up by the Cambridgeshire Children and Young People's Strategic Partnership, and his artwork also features in the finished document.
The partnership's plan is designed to improve the lives of young people and their families.
It includes measures to reduce the number of children injured in road accidents, to improve youngsters' self esteem, tackle bullying, increase participation in sport, and increase attainment in the traveller, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, as well as boost GCSE results of children in care.
Billy, who is proud of his Romany origin, said he enjoyed taking part in the project, especially to help get the views of gypsies across.
"I interviewed some council people and drew some artwork and miniature posters and did some work on the booklet - The Big Plan," he said.
Billy, who was born in Essex and who has travelled all over the region, has been living in a house for about 10 years.
"I do prefer travelling really, but you can't stop anywhere, and when you do people throw firebombs at you or come up looking for a fight, so we are moved on," he said. "There is good and bad in everybody. Travellers are not all bad people."
Coun Shona Johnstone, Cambridgeshire County Council cabinet member for children and young people's services, said:
"Children, young people and their families are at the heart of the partnership and the plan they have produced.
"What they have told us has been vital in setting our priorities.
"We particularly valued the contribution made by Billy and the travelling community."
Coun Johnstone said the partnership was working to ensure children and their families receive faster and more effective services close to where they live and go to school, and that they look to the Government for support.
The partnership, made up from local councils, the police, primary care trusts and NHS trusts, Connexions, schools and voluntary organisations, felt contributions by young people were an integral part of the plan, and 1,850 took part.