Barnrättsbyrån in Södermalm, Stockholm, is a place where all children and young people can come to get help and support. Elin Wernqvist Roberts and her colleagues are there to listen and give them practical help with rights issues. “We want to draw attention to children’s perspectives and listen to their stories”, says Elin (in the middle of the picture).
What type of work do you do at Barnrättsbyrån?
“We’re an open agency working on behalf of children. Children can come here whenever they want with their questions, thoughts, and problems. Once we’ve heard their stories and know their circumstances, we’re able to ensure that they’re being treated properly and given access to their basic rights. This can be legal help, counselling, or help in their contact with the authorities.”
What problems can people turn to you with?
“They can come with all kinds of things. When I think about it, most cases have to do with rights issues. They can be in a vulnerable position at home in various ways, they may have applied for residency in Sweden and have been rejected, or they might need to speak to someone but don’t know where to turn. We can help people by putting them in contact with the right authority, offer advice, and be a support along the way.”
What’s unique about Barnrättsbyrån?
“For us it’s really important to build relationships with the young people and to build trust. We see ourselves as co-passengers and supporters on their journey and process with them. We’re constantly working with the Convention on the Rights of the Child using an empowerment perspective, meaning that we believe in the young people’s own abilities. At the same time, we can contribute with specific competence when it comes to legal aid and helping the children so they don’t have to carry the responsibilities of an adult. Combining the relational perspective and legal support is what makes Barnrättsbyrån unique.”
What motivates you in your work with Barnrättsbyrån?
“Most of all, it’s the desire to work with young people that motivates me. It’s especially rewarding when I get to see children progress and work through a situation they thought was impossible. I’m also driven by conveying a view of children that sees them as equals, with valid ideas that are worth listening to. Article 12 in the Convention says that all children have the right to have their voices heard. I want to be there, listening to those voices.”