Young Lives Big Ambitions - Transforming Life Chances for Vulnerable Children and Teens By Anne Longfield

May 15, 2024
| by
Anne Longfield CBE

Society is failing too many children. But we can do better.

A difficult home life. A missed diagnosis. A disrupted education. Falling in with the wrong crowd. Every year thousands of children fall through the cracks in our society and become victims of a destructive cycle that ends in exploitation, violence, and lost life chances.

As Commissioner for Children in England, Anne Longfield CBE witnessed the devastating effects of this cycle as vulnerable young people were failed by systems too underfunded and overstretched to protect them.

Young Lives, Big Ambitions is an action plan to fix our broken system and give every young person the chance to succeed.

Now available to purchase Young Lives, Big Ambitions | Jessica Kingsley Publishers - UK (
Click to listen to Anne's interview on CYP Now Podcast

‘Anne Longfield meticulously unravels the disturbing narrative of the decline in children’s services over the past decade… Young Lives, Big Ambitions serves as a poignant call to action.’ CHERIE BLAIR, CBE, KC

‘Britain’s young people have no more powerful advocate than Anne Longfield. Young Lives, Big Ambitions is a powerful wake-up call for political leaders and a devastating critique of inaction to date… It should echo down the corridors of Whitehall for generations.’ BARONESS LOUISE CASEY

Anne Longfield CBE has spent three decades improving the life chances of children, particularly the most vulnerable. She was Children’s Commissioner for England from 2015 to 2021, and is now Chair of the Centre for Young Lives. CATHY NEWMAN, CHANNEL 4 NEWS

‘Life is just too hard for too many children. Too many face delays for support with their mental health, or live in poverty, or are groomed and exploited by criminals. Anne Longfield has given her life to supporting children, and she shines a light on how we are failing too many children, and she offers a blueprint for radical change. She is absolutely right, we need a bold new strategy that invests in children, and prioritises their wellbeing. Anne is right, we must be ambitious for every child so they thrive not just survive. This book is a must read for every MP.’ MARK RUSSELL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE CHILDREN’S SOCIETY

‘Anne Longfield was an outstanding Children's Commissioner for England because she saw and listened to children who are all too often unseen, unheard and ignored… Since leaving that role she has continued to throw a spotlight on our most vulnerable young people. This book brings together these children's voices, analyses where and how we are failing to protect them and gives examples of excellent practice that could and should be reproduced around the country. It makes the case for investing in our children, listening to them, and ensuring that care really does mean care. I hope this book will inspire us all to face the challenge of protecting and supporting young people. Our future depends on them.’ ESTHER RANTZEN

'We need to be relentlessly ambitious for every child'. That sentence is the last in this important book, written by perhaps the UK's most formidable campaigner for young people, Anne Longfield… The narrative burns with passion and anger - but also fizzes with solutions. Anne has a fearless insight into what works, with examples from all parts of the UK of how schools, local authorities, voluntary organisations, community groups can give care, love, support and structure to vulnerable children. The message is we know what works: 'the shelves are full of reports that tell us what it takes for these children to succeed.' The exhortation - one of both simplicity and power - is, simply, let's just do it.’ PROF. CHARLIE JEFFREY, VICE CHANCELLOR AND PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF YORK

Few people have done more to champion the vulnerable children who fall through the gaps in society than Anne Longfield. This is a powerful, moving and ultimately uplifting account of young lives tragically wasted and how they can be turned around.’ RACHEL SYLVESTER, THE TIMES

‘As a boy from a mining community who, as the pits shut, saw friends and acquaintances sucked into a spiral of emotional and financial decline - some going to prison, some dying as a result - I have come to regret that Anne Longfield was not there to help others help them. But she is here, now. Here with a profound vision for young people; one that represents a beacon of hope for the future of this country; one that cannot be ignored.’ JAMES MITCHINSON, EDITOR OF THE YORKSHIRE POST

‘With empathy and precision, Longfield catalogues the shocking details of these children's lives and the moments that are missed to protect them… This important, timely book argues that we should be much more ambitious for young people growing up in adversity. It makes a compelling case for why we should do better. With nurture, care and protection, these children and young people could flourish.’ KATIE RAZZALL, BBC NEWS

Meet the Authors

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Meet the Author

Anne Longfield CBE
Co-Founder and Executive Chair, Centre for Young Lives

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