Professor Peter Beresford OBE, who collected his honorary doctorate at Edge Hill University today, called on graduates to be advocates for young people and a line of defence for them when needed.

Addressing graduates from health, social care and social work degrees he spoke of an ageist society where young were pitted against old and asked them to always remember the value of young people.

He said:

“I think that children and young people tend to be the victims of uncaring and disempowering politics and ideology.

“For those of you graduating from social work and other professional courses, many of you will be working with children and young people.

“I’m hopeful that you will be advocates and a line of defence for them as we know from some of the awful things that have ultimately come to light recently, such as organized sexual abuse and how much they need people to stand up for them.

Prof. Beresford quoting the words of German wartime writer Erich Maria Remarque who greatly influenced him as a youngster “don’t try to understand the young, they just want to be left alone…..if you can’t help, keep out of the way.”

Asking graduates to always try and remember these words, he said:

“Help (young people) on their way through the difficulties that we may have known only too well.

“Sometimes it seems to me we want to pretend they never happened. We should be honest about our own experiences, the mistakes that we made, the helping hands we needed.

“We should help, we should offer support we should be there for them. We shouldn’t interfere, we shouldn’t reject or come to simplistic judgments.”

Professor Peter Beresford OBE is a leading figure in the arena of citizen participation and involvement, and perhaps the pre-eminent voice in relation to service user and carer participation in service design, delivery and evaluation.

He is currently Professor of Citizen Participation at the University of Essex, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University, Co-Chair of independent user-controlled organisation, think tank and network Shaping Our Lives and a visiting professor at Edge Hill University.

In 2007 he was awarded an OBE and in 2016, he was named as one of the top 100 influential people in the UK in relation to issues of disability and impairment.