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Children’s Commissioner champions family life in Catholic Union lecture

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza DBE, has said that “we need to be more vocal about the importance of families”.

Dame Rachel was speaking at the Catholic Union’s annual Craigmyle Lecture. She told the audience of almost 100 people that “over the years I have come to believe there is one institution more powerful, more important, more transformational for children than a school – and that is the family.”

Speaking at the University of Notre Dame London campus, she said that “strong families are the fabric of any healthy society…” but that “the government tends to see families for the collection of challenges they face, rather than the innate power they hold.”

Dame Rachel, who is a practising Catholic, spoke about the importance of her faith. “St Ignatius’ reform spirit deeply influenced me and inspires me still in all my work” she said.

Dame Rachel took up the role of Children’s Commissioner in March 2021, as we were emerging from the last of the strictest lockdowns in England. She said that the “magnitude and acuity” of the lockdowns is only being truly understood now.

Last year, Dame Rachel launched the Family Review which surveyed children across England about their views on family. 78 percent of respondents to that review said they would turn to family first with a problem.

Dame Rachel used the Catholic Union’s annual flagship lecture to announce the Big Ambition, which will be another major survey of young people in England.

“Children have told me that they do not believe that it is solely the role of the state to provide for them. The Church has an important role in shaping the world we want to live in” she said.

Dame Rachel also praised the work of the Catholic Union, saying “The Catholic Union has played a key role in defending the common good and helping to shape the national conversation.”

The event was kindly sponsored by the Universe Catholic Weekly.

Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker, comments: “We are delighted that Dame Rachel was able to join us and give such a fascinating talk. Over the years, the Craigmyle Lecture has given a platform to many prominent public figures to talk about many different subjects, but few matters are more important than how we create a society where children can flourish. It was good to hear Dame Rachel place such a strong emphasis on family life as part of her talk, this is something the Catholic Union has championed for many years. Please do consider supporting the work of the Catholic Union today so that we can continue to put on events like this free of charge and open to all.”