Young People Boldy Raising their Voices at UNCRC in Geneva

June 11, 2023

News, Press Release

Young People Boldy Raising their Voices at UNCRC in Geneva

After weeks of preparation, in May 2023 our Expert By Experience Youth Mentors Heaven & Ihab along with young people from Children’s Law Centre, VOYPIC and Northern Ireland Youth Forum travelled to Geneva to meet with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child UK Taskforce members to highlight issues where they felt the UK were letting young people down, ahead of the Committee’s examination of the UK Government.

The UN Committee members then took the concerns raised by the young people to the UK Government examination sessions and the UK Government delegation were challenged on a range of issues. Questions were asked of UK officials and they were held to account on how they are upholding the rights of the child.

Areas raised included the needs of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, the minimum age of criminal responsibility, support for care experience young people leaving care and the impact that budget cuts are having on young people’s services.

We are incredibly proud of all the young people who spoke boldly, passionately and advocated for change. We are delighted to note that the issues that were raised by young people were reflected in the Committee’s Concluding Observations which can be read here.

We are committed to continuing the conversations started in Geneva and to holding duty bearers to account. It is only the beginning.

Heaven stated “The Geneva trip gave me the experience of raising the voice of young people in Northern Ireland, all of them, especially asylum seekers…I felt the responsibility to explain the idea and give the image of young people to the government. Moreover, UNCRC did give us the opportunity to push our stories to the Government. It felt so good that they listened to our problems.”

Ihab  reflected “All the problems raised were very important. However, the social workers problem with young people was a very critical matter that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible….How can one  social worker have 10 or 15 young people?  Sometimes they change social workers on the young people, and then they  need to meet them again from the start, as starting from zero.”

“We still going to keep pushing and raise our voices to the government that “we are here, we exist. Our voice is strong!”

Paula Rodgers, Include Youth’s Policy Co-ordinator, who also travelled to Geneva said:  “It was an amazing opportunity for young people from Include Youth with lived experiences, to be able to speak truth to power. Heaven and Ihab made a powerful impact and I have no doubt that they influenced the Committee’s line of questions to the UK government delegation and subsequent Concluding Observations.”