Simon Parsons is a writer, producer and media consultant.
He makes films and television programmes, consults on the business of media and writes about childhood. His book “Remember the Kindness of Strangers” takes two landmark events: one in 1980 – when the term “child sexual abuse” first appeared in a UK government memo and 2011 – when The Lancet commissioned a study of child maltreatment as if it were an illness and discovered there had been no significant change in 20 years. The report was lost amid recriminations around the riots that tore through the country in late summer.
On one level the book is a quest to find what went wrong. But more than that, it is about modern childhood for the majority who live with adults who love them and the paradox that a quest to make children safer led to a childhood that is the worst in the developed world. It is colourful, challenging and analytical with a core of unswerving optimism. Simon has written for the Times Educational Supplement, he appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2013 and is a frequent contributor to radio discussion programmes.
Simon is an expert at reconnecting creative businesses to their audiences – both inside and outside the organisation. In his previous work he sat on the BBC Children’s editorial board for five years. He was the longest serving member when he left in 2011 having played an active role in working group whose job was to clarify and retarget the corporation’s key brands for young people. It was a defining moment for the corporation which had been haemorrhaging young viewers to a fragmenting digital market. After it adopted their recommendations, the CBBC and CBeebies channels re-emerged as the most popular children’s channels in the UK. He was brand manager for the enormously successful Balamory and head of the BBC’s production arm in Scotland where they produced 20% of the network output. The department which had once acted as an early staging post on the career ladder for anyone with ambition became, under his leadership, a destination point for the most talented people in the business.
His company Fire By The River works in partnership with other companies to develop products for children, young adults and those close to them. The driving principal is to inspire young people to grow and help them connect with the world they are growing up in. After all, an economy that cannot reproduce itself is the epitome of unsustainability.