Participation very simply means taking part, but when it is referred to with regards to you as young people it quite often means:
- Involving you in projects
- Working with you to get your ideas and opinions
- Encouraging you to become involved in decision-making to influence the services and activities that are provided for you
A set of National Standards have been developed in Wales for organisations that work with young people. In Rhondda Cynon Taf we have a Youth Inspection Team that uses these standards to inspect Youth Clubs and other provisions to check that they are working towards these standards.
The seven standards are:
- It’s Your Choice
- No Discrimination
- You Get Something Out of It
- Working Better for You
In 2016, Youth Participation Workers from across Wales worked with Children in Wales to amend these standards, make them easier to understand and decide on one approach to use for all Local Inspections (in the Local Authorities that still hold Inspections in this way.)
The young people’s consultation will be taking place shortly and following this the new poster will be shared and publicised across Wales.
It’s important as children and young people that you have a say in the decisions that affect you, and at WICID.tv and the Youth Engagement and Participation Service, we’re passionate about making sure you know your rights! In our recent survey only 3% of young people that we asked said they knew what the UNCRC is.
The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a document containing 42 Articles which aims to protect young people aged 0 to 18 years old and gives them all the basic things they need to develop healthily. It was created after the Second World War to try and prevent people losing their human rights ever again. During the War people’s even most basic rights to food and shelter were taken from them, so the members of the European Union at the time came together to agree on these rights. You can read all of the rights you have on the UNICEF website and learn more about the power of young people’s participation.
In Wales we have extra laws that mean Welsh Ministers must consider the impact any new law will have on children and young people, and there is an expectation under Article 12 that they do this by asking young people for their opinions. Article 12 is one of the most powerful articles in regards to Young People’s Participation because it says young people have the right to be listened to and have their views taken into account when adults make decisions that affect them.
Local Youth Participation
In September 2016, the RCT Youth Engagement and Participation Service launched three new forums for each valley. Any young person aged 11 to 25 years old can join the Rhondda, Cynon or Taf forums, so if you’re interested please contact the YEPS Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/YEPSRCT/
In January 2017 the brand new RCT County Youth Forum will meet for the first time – this forum will be made up of young representatives from each secondary and special school council, the Rhondda , Cynon and Taf forums, the two Members of the Youth Parliament representing RCT, and two Youth Inspectors. The forum will discuss issues affecting young people, be consulted on changes proposed by the council, and work on priority campaigns as voted for by young people.
National And International Youth Participation
In order to feed the views of young people from RCT to decision-making we need to work in partnership with National bodies. In Wales, Children in Wales, via their Young Wales project, consult with young people on behalf of the Welsh Government and young people are regularly given opportunities to meet Ministers and have a voice.
For the last three years RCT has attended the Annual Sitting of three UK Youth Parliament meetings (supported by the British Youth Council) with two young people who have represented RCT in the debate. During the Annual Sitting the 600 Members of the Youth Parliament; who are aged 11 to 18 years old, debate in the House of Commons, presided over by the current Speaker of the House, Mr Speaker, Rt Hon John Bercow. The debate revolves around the five issues as voted for by young people in the Make Your Mark Campaign. In 2016, 3641 votes were cast by young people aged 11 to 18 years old.
The votes cast in RCT were as follows:
A curriculum to prepare us for life – 555
Votes at 16 – 488
Transport – 469
First Aid Education for All Young People – 429
Mental Health – 409
Stop Cuts that affect the NHS – 315
Body Image – 302
Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish – 279
Fund our Youth Services, don’t cut them – 229
Raising Awareness of Sexual Harassment in schools -166
The national, overall Top 5 will be announced on October 18th. The UK Youth Parliament also runs a UK Young Ambassador Scheme where young people act as representatives for the UK and its member countries in Europe, and share the issues of British young people to the European Parliament.