Regional Youth Participation Projects:
Currently, NI is the only jurisdiction on the Islands of Ireland and GB to never have had a Youth Assembly.
We believe strongly that we should have one here – young people have lobbied for this for over 10 years.
There are a range of Regional Participation Projects in NI:
NI Youth Forum
The NI Youth Forum is a regional, youth led participation project. We were set up in 1979 by the Department of Education and have been involving young people in having a say in the Policy Making Process since this time.
Any young person who lives in NI aged between 11 – 25 can be a member of the Youth Forum. We have over 3,000 members and achieve in excess of 30,000 youth engagements per year.
Our work is diverse and wide ranging including lobbying and campaigning; democracy projects such as the NI Youth Congress, UKYP and North South Youth Forum. We regularly engage with politicians and sit on various policy making fora.
NIYF is lead by a management committee of around 15 young people elected every two years by our membership.
Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster
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Here is a snapshot of some of the other regional participation projects across Ireland and GB:
UKYP is run by the British Youth Council (BYC). NIYF currently work in partnership with BYC to facilitate UKYP in NI.
We help to run elections every year where young people vote for their peers to represent their area. Every year 18 ‘MYP’s’ (members of Youth Parliament) are elected in NI.
Dáil na nÓg:
The Republic of Ireland has a Dáil na nÓg (Youth Parliament) with every county council having a Comhraile na nÓg (Youth Council).
The Dáil na nÓg model has been recognised as a model of good practice and we would advocate for something similar in NI – linking Youth Councils to a Regional Assembly.
Scottish Youth Parliament:
In Scotland young people have a Youth Parliament – this is another great model of Youth Participation. SYP is made up of 150 young people aged 12 – 25 who represent their communities at a National Level. SYP regularly campaign on issues. It was set up in 1999 and has become recognised as another model of best practice.
Wales used to have a Youth Assembly called Funky Dragon. In recent years a new model has been established to promote the voice of young people and linking local participation to a regional voice for young people. This is another example of an excellent model for engaging with young people and supporting them to have their say.