If a city is successful for children, then it will be successful for all people

Enrique Peñalosa, former Bogota Mayor who promoted designing for children as a priority / a city model giving priority to children and public spaces.




‘To be sustainable, a city must sustain its children. It must provide a physical environment that ensures children's health, develops their faculties and fosters their love for community, and for nature. In this way, children grow up to become agents of sustainability’. 

Liveable Cities

The Bristol Child Friendly City (CFC) movement is inspired by UNICEF global child friendly cities initiative to develop child friendly cities/communities that embody the UN Rights of the Child. A child friendly city is actively engaged in fulfilling the right of every young citizen to:
  • Influence decisions about their city
  • Express their opinion on the city they want
  • Participate in family, community and social life
  • Walk safely in the streets on their own
  • Meet friends and play
  • Have green spaces for plants and animals
  • Live in an unpolluted environment
  • Participate in cultural and social events 
  • Be an equal citizen of their city with access to every service, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, income, gender or disability

 Why focus on children in Bristol?
  • Approx. 25% population under 18
  • Children – unlike adults - are in constant physical and mental growth, development and change
  • Children have no democratic rights, financial power and little control over their environment and life situation
  • Children are current citizens with rights, responsibilities and much to contribute – this is largely overlooked
  • Children need adults to act with them and for them to uphold their rights and enable their full participation
  • Children will be future adult citizens.  Their experiences now will shape future behaviour, choices and the city.

The Bristol Child Friendly City story so far
The CFC conversation came from joint work and interests between the Architecture Centre, Playing Out, Room 13 and the University of Bristol, focussing mainly on children and civic/public life: citizenship, voice, democracy, freedom of movement and access to public space and the city’s resources. This initial area chimes with wider national conversations, fits well with Bristol Green Capital and has some clear achievable aims.  This vision may broaden any time now or in the future to other areas vital to a CFC (education, play, housing, health) where organisations and individuals are motivated to act. Bristol Child Friendly City  is an on-going, developing aspiration and journey. So far:
  • The initiating 3 organisations have regularly met and formed a working group to develop ideas
  • University of Bristol Connected Communities programme seed funded the Architecture Centre to carry out research into CFCs, hold a small kickstarter seminarin pring 2015
  • Child Friendly City network event was hosted at University of Bristol in July 2015
  • Working group has connected with Bristol Age Friendly City initiative and informally spoken to many other people and networks across the city. 

Key Characteristics of Bristol CFC so far:
  • Initiated by organisations that work with and/or ‘hear’ children and families in the city
  • 2015 is ‘year zero’: open conversations to explore and co-design the CFC vision for Bristol
  • Authentic, exciting, ground-up movement that is rapidly attracting interest
  • Informed by research and involving universities, strategic advocacy and grassroots delivery
  • Ties in well with Age Friendly/All Age Friendly agendas, Resiliant cities, Learning City, Green Capital
  • Has the capacity to be a collaborative, city wide partnership with BCC as a partner
  • Fits well as an important Green Capital legacy


“Our children shape our cities, and our cities shape our children”