Youth Manifesto for Change demands voice for young people at Stormont
The new Stormont administration should appoint a Minister for Youth to ensure young people’s issues are listened to and acted in Northern Ireland.
That was one of the key demands of the Youth Manifesto for Change launched on April 14th by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF) based on its research carried out over the past five years and after extensive consultation with young people.
The manifesto, which has been sent to Northern Ireland’s political parties ahead of the Assembly election on May 5, also calls for an All Party Working Group for Young People and implementation of a Bill of Rights that protects the interests of young people.
NIYF Director, Chris Quinn said the manifesto reflected the main issues raised by young people over the past five years since the last Assembly elections.
“The message coming out loud and clear from this manifesto is that young people have had enough. They continually get a raw deal and they have told us over and over again what they need. Their rights have been infringed consistently and COVID-19 has made things worse for many. Rising youth poverty, soaring costs of living, unequal pay and a plethora of systematic inequalities are simply not acceptable.
“Young people are calling out ‘the powers that be’ including a dysfunctional Education system, inadequate mental health services and the absence of a Bill of Rights that would protect us all. We are demanding that politicians listen and act when elected to the incoming Assembly. We have submitted these concerns to the UN Committee on the rights of the Child in preparation for their next review of what the UK and NI government are doing to uphold young people’s rights. Young people are calling for big changes including a Minister for Youth to champion the issues that affect young people. Enough is enough!”
The launch of the Youth Manifesto was one of the key elements of the Northern Ireland Youth Forum’s AGM entitled ‘Promoting the Voice’.
The event, which was attended by a range of politicians and decision-makers, included workshops for young people to discuss the issues within the manifesto, the opening of a new therapeutic youth space within the NIYF offices and the unveiling of Pinball 3, its latest animated video about youth homelessness.
The manifesto covers ten main areas where young people want to see reforms. They are: Mental Health; Youth Voices; Education; Housing; Policing, Justice and Safety; Poverty; Transport; Environment and Peace-building. Inclusion and diversity is an overarching theme where young people want more to be done to challenge disadvantage and inequality.
To access the Youth Manifesto for Change go to: http://www.niyf.org/niyf-publications/