The Group Contract has been introduced to make sure young people in the Belfast City Youth Council:
- stay safe
- enjoy their time within the Youth Council
- have positive relationships with each other
- organise and run effective campaigns.
This Code of Behaviour applies to all Belfast City Youth Council members and activities, including meetings, residentials and social events.
We want to make sure all young people on the Youth Council are valued and respected irrespective of age, ability and background.
To enable this, it is important for members to:
- recognise that everyone is entitled to their opinion
- include everyone in Youth Council activities
- treat others how you would like to be treated
- take responsibility for your own actions
- honour the commitments you make to members and the Youth Council
- support one another.
To protect members and the Youth Council, there will be:
- no bullying
- no alcohol
- no drugs
- no aggressive or violent conduct
- no anti-social behaviour
- respect for each other’s individuality and recognise that not everyone wants to do the same thing or responds in the same way.
Where there are sensitive issues discussed as part of Belfast City Youth Council business (inside meetings or outside), members should not repeat them to others outside the Youth Council.
Belfast City Council staff and Youth Council volunteers will ensure confidentiality where Youth Council members have issues of concern they wish to discuss and will be able to signpost members where further help may be required.
In order to get along with each other and produce some good work, it’s important that we all learn to communicate with each other.
To help us with this, members should make an effort to:
- ensure everyone has an opportunity to by listening to each other; being tolerant of other members’ opinions and feelings
- recognising everyone has an equal voice
- try to talk to everyone through engaging in conversations and being aware of different needs
- make your points clearly and stay on the topic
- not talk over others or while others are talking. This includes both during small group discussions and in Youth Council meetings.
There are certain behaviours that should be avoided that may potentially damage relationships and the work of the Youth Council. This may include inappropriate language that is discriminatory, offensive, perceived as gossip or banter that goes too far.
Use of social media
We know that social media has become an important tool for communicating, especially for young people. While this mainly takes place outside Youth Council activities, the code still applies where content or behaviour may impact on the reputation of the Belfast City Youth Council, other Youth Council members or the Council.
Certain behaviours used through social media can be perceived as cyberbullying and may result in suspension of those members involved.
Therefore it is important when using mediums like:
Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms
- to not put negative remarks about individual members or the Youth Council on your social media pages
- to not put embarrassing things that people don’t want on their social media pages
- no taking pictures of other young people on the Youth Council without their permission
- no posting up pictures of other young people on the Youth Council without their permission.
- respect other people’s privacy though not giving out other people’s mobile numbers without their permission
- not taking pictures or sending them to another person without consent of those in the photo
- not texting while someone is talking to you or during meetings
- turn mobiles off or on silent during meetings.
Relationships between members are an important part of the Youth Council's work. Where there are difficulties with relationships within or outside the Youth Council between members, it may potentially hinder the work of the Youth Council and damage the reputation of members and the Youth Council itself.
To support each other and to enhance relationships within the Youth Council, members should communicate with each other, avoid anti-social behaviour, be patient with each other and respect personal space.
It is recognised that members will develop different levels of relationships with each other and may include members going out with each other. To ensure this does not impact on relationships within or the work of the Youth Council, members should not:
- allow the relationships to exclude others during Youth Council activities
- show intimate public displays of affection
- bring personal disagreements or issues into the Youth Council
- allow relationship breakdowns to impact on relationships within the Youth Council.
Members need to be aware that individuals will have different levels of what they find acceptable in regard to physical contact. Therefore, we need to respect each other’s personal space and not engage in physical behaviour that can be contact be construed as sexual or will cause harm. This may include horseplay or dangerous behaviours.
To respect others, respect each other’s boundaries and personal space.
This Code of Behaviour applies to residentials.
Members also need to be aware of:
- rules of the facility where the event is taking place
- importance of everyone taking an active part
- respect for personal space
- not entering bedrooms of other members (of opposite sex)
- agreed bed and quiet times
- be mindful of other users in the same venue.
Safeguarding and support
Remember members, volunteers and Belfast City Council staff are here to support each other.
If you have any concerns (personal or about behaviour within the Youth Council) – please feel free to speak to one of the volunteers or Belfast City Council staff. It will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Where there may be a situation where a young person is being harmed, council officers and volunteers will follow the council child protection procedures and report concerns to the Health and Social Services Trust.
The Code of Behaviour are guidelines for the protection of members and to enable the work of the Youth Council to be carried out.
It is recognised that it is difficult to place a definitive set of potential actions that will take place where these guidelines have been breached. The guiding factor in deciding potential actions will be determined by the level that the member’s actions hinder the work of the Youth Council or potentially harm another member or the reputation of Belfast City Youth Council.
Where there is reason to challenge behaviour not in line with the Code of Behaviour, the following stages may be used:
- informal discussion with those concerned
- a formal meeting between those concerned and a member of Belfast City Council staff
- review position in Belfast City Youth Council.
If a member places another member at risk – this may result in immediate suspension from Belfast City Youth Council.
Where a member appeals the decisions taken, they may do so in writing to the Children and Young People Manager.
These guidelines were developed and agreed by Belfast City Youth Council 2021-2023 on (insert date).
Each young person will sign a copy of this Code of Behaviour upon successful application to the Belfast City Youth Council.