The Belfast City Council Youth Forum today met with senior officials from a number of Government departments to discuss wide ranging issues affecting young people in Northern Ireland.
The Youth Forum represents young people’s voices and lobbies decision makers on issues that are important to young people. The meeting took place with senior officials from the Department for Communities, Department for Infrastructure, Department for Education, Department for Economy and The Executive Office.
The Youth Forum have focussed on four main campaign areas – poverty, mental health, diversity and relationship & sexual health education and have also teamed up with the Greater Belfast Senior Forum to tackle poverty in Belfast.
At the meeting they discussed a current campaign, “Poverty: It’s not a Choice”, and asked the officials to give a commitment to take the Youth Forum’s opinions on board when developing policies and actions to tackle poverty.
Speaking afterwards, the Department for Communities Permanent Secretary, Tracy Meharg, said: “Today’s first meeting was timely as it coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty which carries the theme for 2019: “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”. In keeping with this message this was a very useful meeting and my colleagues and I look forward to further engagement with our young people as we work to develop new strategies to help tackle poverty, ensuring families and young people have the incomes to support their households’ and wider needs of the community.”
John Jo McGrady, Chair Person of the Youth Forum, said: "Today’s meeting is a brilliant opportunity for young people from Belfast to meet some of our most important decision makers and talk to them about poverty and inequality. Growing inequality affects young people’s lives every day, this meeting will let us discuss the problems this causes; we are also going to offer the decision makers solutions on how young people think inequality can be addressed.”
Notes to editors:
1. Permanent Secretaries from the Departments for Communities, Infrastructure and Education, included Tracy Meharg, Katrina Godfrey and Derek Baker respectively and were joined by senior officials from The Executive Office and the Department for Economy at the meeting.
2. For updates on the Department for Communities follow us on Twitter - @CommunitiesNI
3. For media enquiries or images please contact the DfC Press Office on 028 9082 3532 or out of office hours contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.