Young people make up a third of the population of Belfast, making our city one of the youngest in Europe.
As Belfast is home to so many young people, we thought it was time they had a say in how our city is run and show that they’re listened to by adults.
If you’re a young person, we’ve set up the Belfast Youth Forum to help make this happen.
Who’s in the Belfast Youth Forum?
The forum is made up of 40 young people from communities across Belfast.
All of our members are aged between 13-18 (21 if you are disabled or have just left care) and are a forum member for two years.
The Belfast Youth Forum 2018 - 2020 are focusing on these campaigns:
- Mental Health
- Relationship and Sexuality Education
Read our Youth Forum news
, follow us on Twitter @Belfast_YF
and use the #BelfastYouthForum hashtag to keep up-to-date with our work.
The United Nations Convention on the rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a list of rights created to protect all children and young people and make sure they have everything they need to live a happy and healthy life.
The work of the Belfast Youth Forum is guided by the UNCRC, in particular:
- Article 2- Children and young people should not be discriminated against
- Article 3- The best interests of children and young people should be a top priority in all decisions concerning them, and
- Article 12- Every child and young person has the right to say what they think in matters affecting them and to have their views listened to and taken seriously.
Any use? research report
The Belfast Youth Forum launched their ‘Any Use?’ research report on 21 November 2019 as part of UN World Children’s Day celebration to mark the 30th Anniversary of the UNCRC. The report focuses on young people’s opinions on Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) in Belfast. Our Belfast Youth Forum created the report in partnership with Common Youth and Centre for Children’s Rights QUB.
The Belfast Youth Forum chose relationship and sexuality education as one of their campaign areas for 2018-2019 because young people has raised it as a key issue through a number of engagement events.
Key findings from the report
- One in two young people think their right to RSE is currently not being met
- 34 per cent of young people who completed the survey had never received a RSE lesson in school
- Of the young people who did receive RSE, only 10 percent said the information they received was ‘very useful’
- Despite this, a massive 86 per cent of young people felt school was still the best place to receive RSE
- Three quarters of young people believed RSE should not be influenced by the ethos or religion of the school
- The overwhelming majority want it taught by a qualified RSE teacher as part of a curriculum programme
- The most popular subject young people want to learn about in RSE is ‘personal relationships.’
Key recommendations from the report are:
- Adopt a right-based proactive approach to relationship and sexuality education
- Work with young people to co-produce an RSE curriculum programme for schools
- A curriculum programme should be taught by specialised, qualified and trained staff.
Our young people will now be engaging with decision makers and influencers across Belfast to implement the recommendations in their research report.
If you would like more information or a copy of the report, email or call 028 9050 0521.
What has the forum done so far?
The Belfast Youth Forum has focussed on a number of campaign areas including:
- Mental Health
- Votes at 16
The Belfast Youth Forum has organised a number of events including:
- 'Elephant in the Room' research report on children and young people and mental health. This is part of a regional youth-led mental health campaign, organised by young people from Belfast Youth Forum and NI Youth Forum.
- Poverty: It’s not a choice research report on raising awareness about Poverty in Belfast.
- The ‘Push it Home’ campaign to raise awareness of the levels of ‘hidden homelessness’ in Belfast.
- The Youth hub - a pilot project to test shared youth spaces across the city centre.
- An intergenerational project with the Seniors Forum to raise awareness of poverty in Belfast.
- The #LiveLouder battle of the bands competition and concert in partnership with the Oh Yeah Music centre. We gave the winners of this competition a £1000 bursary.
- The Digi Dragons Den app competition to help young people look after their mental health, and the environment. We gave the two winners of this competition a £1000 bursary each.