Leading children’s rights charity NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service), which is headquartered in Birkenhead, has announced the appointment of Ben Twomey as its Head of Policy and Research.
The appointment signals a renewed commitment from NYAS to ensure the voices of children and young people in care are heard by key decision-makers in government and the justice system. Ben is the charity’s first Head of Policy and Research and will work closely with NYAS’ nationwide network of advocates and legal specialists, along with young people themselves to promote children’s rights in the UK.
Ben brings a wealth of policy and engagement experience to the role. Prior to joining NYAS he was a Policy Officer for the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and, during his career, has worked with three police commissioners in a variety of policy-related roles, including policy lead for youth engagement in Warwickshire and head of substance misuse policy in the West Midlands and County Durham. Ben’s passion for driving positive change in the criminal justice system led him at 22 to become the UK’s youngest ever candidate to stand in a Police and Crime Commissioner election, with an agenda focused on preventing crime through evidence-based policy.
Whilst with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Ben led a team in transforming the region’s response to drugs, treating addiction as a health issue first and foremost and ensuring those who were suffering had access to support. He has a Masters of Law with distinction from the University of Warwick, and a first-class History and Politics degree from the University of York.
Commenting on Ben’s appointment, Rita Waters, NYAS Chief Executive said, “We’re enormously excited to have Ben on board. He has an exceptionally strong background in shaping and promoting policy change, and his policies have been praised by Government ministers, cross-party parliamentary groups, national treatment agencies and senior police officers. Ben’s innovative and inclusive research approach will enable NYAS to develop powerful intelligence to influence regulation and legislation in the best interests of vulnerable children and young people.”
Ben, whose new role will see him nurturing close links with a network of influential peer charities and organisations on behalf of NYAS, as well as lobbying decision-makers on a local, regional and national basis, said, “Throughout my career I have been committed to giving a voice to young people when it comes to the creation of policy that will impact upon their lives. During my time working with Police and Crime Commissioners, I wanted to address the fact that young people often had little or no direct influence on how policy was being shaped, despite 18-24-year-olds being the most likely to both perpetrate or be victims of crime.
“My work exposed me to the cycle of crime that vulnerable young people – including those in the care system and care leavers – can fall into as a result of circumstance. Consequently, I became a passionate advocate of crime prevention by addressing the root causes of it and empowering young people to improve their own lives.”
“NYAS will provide me with an opportunity to continue pushing for the active involvement of children and young people when it comes to policy-making, and I look forward to helping safeguard their rights with an organisation that has been at the forefront of children and young person’s advocacy for more than 30 years.”
Alongside it’s lobbying and campaign work NYAS provides a range of services to young people in care and care leavers, including a national advocacy helpline, advocacy for children in care and those in the child protection system, participation programmes, the provision of independent visitors for children in care and representation of children in private family law.
The charity was established in 1989 and is headquartered in Birkenhead, Wirral.