The Group Contract has been introduced to make sure young people in the Belfast Youth Forum:
- stay safe
- enjoy their time with the Forum
- have positive relationships with each other
- organise and run effective campaigns.
This Group Contract applies to all Forum members and activities, including meetings, residential and social events.
We want to make sure all young people on the forum 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 Forum 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 Forum
- support one another
To protect members and the forum, 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 Forum business (inside meetings or outside), members should not repeat them to others outside the Forum.
Belfast City Council staff and Forum volunteers will ensure confidentiality where forum 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 talking over others or while others are talking. This includes both during small group discussions and in Forum meetings.
There are certain behaviours that should be avoided that may potentially damage relationships and the work of the Forum. 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 Forum activities, the code still applies where content or behaviour may impact on the reputation of the Youth Forum, other 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 and WhatsApp
- to not put negative remarks about individual members or the Forum on your facebook page
- to not put embarrassing things that people don’t want on their Facebook page
- no taking pictures of other young people on the Forum without their permission
- no posting up pictures of other young people on the Forum 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 Forum’s work. Where there are difficulties with relationships within or outside the Forum between members, it may potentially hinder the work of the Forum and damage the reputation of members and the Forum itself.
To support each other and to enhance relationships within the forum, 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 Forum, members should not:
- allow the relationships to exclude others during Forum activities
- show intimate public displays of affection
- bring personal disagreements or issues into the Forum
- allow relationship breakdowns to impact on relationships within the Forum.
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 BCC staff are here to support each other.
If you have any concerns (personal or about behaviour within the Forum) – 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 Forum 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 forum or potentially harm another member or the reputation of the Youth Forum.
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 Forum.
If a member places another member at risk – this may result in immediate suspension from the Forum.
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 the Youth Forum (2018 - 2020) on 3 December 2018.