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.
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.
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.
What does the forum do?
The young people on the Belfast Youth Forum meet in City Hall twice a month to:
- speak up for young people’s rights
- meet with young people in Belfast to hear about the issues they want help with
- run campaigns to create change on these issues
- meet with the council’s decision makers and try to influence the decisions they make about young people, and
- help young people learn about their rights and the UNCRC.
What has the forum done so far?
The Belfast Youth Forum has organised a number of events and campaigns, including:
- 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
- A piece of youth-led research on young people’s views of poverty in Belfast
- 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.
Belfast Youth Forum 2016-2018
The three campaign areas of our current Youth Forum are:
- Mental Health
- Votes at 16
Poverty: It’s not a choice
Poverty is real, it exists in our city.
Poverty is not a lifestyle choice.
Poverty is not inevitable, we can do something about it.
These are the key messages of the Youth Forum’s latest campaign, called Poverty: It’s not a choice. As part of this campaign, our young people launched their research report on young people’s views on poverty in Belfast on Wednesday 10 May 2017. They presented their key findings to a room of decision makers and influencers in City Hall and put forward their actions for Local Government.
They also teamed up with the Greater Belfast Seniors Forum to tackle poverty in Belfast to create a video that challenged the stereotypes and myths surrounding poverty in Belfast.
Our young people will now raise awareness online and will engage with decision makers and influencers across Belfast to implement the actions for government in their research report.
To join their campaign, you can use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share your messages about poverty in Belfast. Help us to challenge the stereotypes, influence decision makers and get people talking.
You can use the hashtag #PovertyNotAChoice
Follow us on Twitter @Belfast_YF and use the #BelfastYouthForum hashtag for updates. And take a look at our Belfast Youth Forum Flickr gallery.
Sign up to our emails