Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Save The Welsh Youth Assembly - #ProtectFunkyDragon

My experience travelling down to Cardiff with other young people to lobby AM’s in the Senedd was positive and enlightening, however there are many lessons to be learned.

Firstly it has been nearly 3 years since I was a member of the Funky Dragon Grand Council so it was lovely to see the staff that supported me and encouraged my participation a few years ago. Secondly it was amazing to see the same caring, supportive atmosphere resonate throughout the group. So instead of listing down all the negatives surrounding the process of appealing this decision to cut the core funding I thought it would be more beneficial to share the positives of being part of this inclusive and supportive organization. Some of them are just for fun – but the serious ones are integral and not understood fully by WAG as to why Funky Dragon is so important. 

1. If you didn’t already you'll learn all the counties in Wales – not because you have too, but because you’ll need to learn where all your new friends live when you go to visit in the summer.

2    2. You'll learn about your fundamental rights and be introduced into the world of representation. Being part of the Grand Council offers you a chance to learn about the UNCRC and give you the chance to report back to the UN on their implementation in Wales.

3    3. You’ll get fit through the entire warm up games, mixers and ice breakers. If you've not done the Haiku at least 20 times by the time your term is finished – there’s something wrong.

4    4. You can be part of a programme that benefits the North and the South – equally. Something many programmes can lack, but in Funky Dragon we can boast.

5    5. You get a chance to put Wales on the map, not only by trying to explain to your English counterparts that you don't ALL live in Cardiff but by being fitted into the British Youth Council Young Ambassador Project, where you will get to represent young people at a European or even global level.

Y    6. You get too see the world through a lens other than what’s being plugged into you at school. Funky Dragon has a mixed council of young people between 11 and 25, all with a plethora of experiences. Once you’ve been to a resi, you’ll never come back the same views. Grand Council members are diverse and inclusive, all are welcome. 

This is nothing on the list of positives that it has had on my life, but hopefully can give you an insight of what this established organization has become. The Welsh Assembly Government are retracting 12 years of work and essentially plunging us into the realms of underdevelopment when countries we may considered as less developed are pouring time, effort and resources into their youth.

Today I spoke to many different Assembly Members (AM’s) and got a diverse range of views on the future of the youth assembly. I received the drone like party response from a Labour AM for Cardiff, who plainly told us we didn’t understand what we were lobbying for and despite openly admitting having no clue herself what Funky Dragon is or what we stand for, felt the need to tell us that.

I was pleasantly pleased by the enthusiasm by North Wales regional AM Llyr Griffiths who was openly enthusiastic about how the youth assembly engages young people from both the North and the South. Something I am personally keen to advocate about the organization. He happily got a photo with us and wrote that he supports the youth assembly because of the good work we do regarding children’s rights. I will definitely have my eye on the Plaid Campaign following the next election.

I met the AM for my constituency Darren Millar. Millar has always been enthusiastic about young people and youth events and I recall him attending numerous panel events when I was at school, therefore I would not suggest his enthusiasm comes from the mere fact he is within an opposition party. He also wrote that the youth assembly does fantastic work and seeks to ensure we receive the funding we need to keep offering that high level of support, education surrounding rights and opportunity for young people in Wales to not only have their voice heard on a national level, but within the UK and internationally.

Funky Dragon – The Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales is not a fad, or something extra that can be cut it times of austerity or hardship, it’s a fundamental platform for young people to receive their right to be heard under article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Other countries are moving forwards as we seem to be moving backwards – I want to be proud of my government, my input and my country and have faith in the system of self government we have been given, something I would fail to do if the youth assembly ceases to exist.

If you wish you help to save Funky Dragon please sign this petition - https://www.assemblywales.org/gethome/e-petitions/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=1042&showfrm=0

#ProtectFunkyDragon - Dorian Lewis

I joined funky dragon back in 2007. At the time I was a care leaver, unemployed and didn’t have any qualifications. I became a representative for my local forum as I was passionate about standing up for children’s rights and being heard. When I first started the grand council I was very nervous and lacked the confidence to do some of the things that I went on to achieve through my involvement of funky dragon. I gained a ocn qualification in funky dragon and 350 hours volunteering certificate. Through the opportunities that were given to me I gained so much confidence that it set me up for life. I was inspired to go back into education follow my dreams. I was later appointed to the care council for wales as a service user representative.

Funky dragon gave me the power to be heard and listened to. It made me feel valued as a person and it gave me some unique opportunities that no other organization has been able to provide.

Sign the petition to save Funky Dragon - https://www.assemblywales.org/gethome/e-petitions/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=1042&showfrm=0

#ProtectFunkyDragon - Jessica Peters

Having spent four years representing young people in the Vale of Glamorgan on Funky Dragon I have seen first hand how essential the organization is for young people within Wales. I have come to the assembly today to discuss with AMs the possible complications that getting rid of a young person led organization would lead to for young people around Wales. 

As Funky Dragon is young person led it exploits article 12 of the UNCRC and fully ensure that all young people involved, and ultimately all young people around Wales, truly are getting their own voices and their own opinions heard. By eradicating this and replacing it with something adult led it is possible that the genuine voices of young people will be silenced as the representation will not be as strong. Also, young people gain a great deal from having a young person led youth assembly; not only does it give those involved the opportunity to gain confidence in themselves and gain knowledge on the political structure in Wales it also shows those who are being represented that there are people willing to listen to them and take their opinions into consideration. 

Again, not having an organization such as Funky Dragon implies to the young people and future electorate of Wales that their voices are irrelevant and unimportant almost, completely refuting article 12 of the UNCRC which Funky Dragon has worked so hard to give to young people all over Wales for the past 12 years.

Jessica Peters, Vale of Glamorgan

Please sign the petition to save Funky Dragon - you don't have to have a Welsh address! - https://www.assemblywales.org/gethome/e-petitions/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=1042&showfrm=0

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Post-15.. Motions for UK Youth

Following my experience representing the UK at the WCY2014 I have had some time to reflect on what I believe UK youth should adopt and focus on these areas.

The direction of youth involment in Post-15 is still vague and non-formal. We need to ensure we chose wisely the areas for us to focus on. In this day and age children and young people still have to live in communities enthralled in violence, sectarianism and hatred. Education programmes are a pivotal way of ensuring these deeply rooted divides can be faded and eventually erased making way for a future of peace and security.

Below are the recommendations I have made for the BYC to adopt to ensure the key messages of Colombo 2014 resonate throughout to UK youth.

1) The BYC recognises the Colombo Declaration on Youth as a pivotal movement for young people to be recognised within the Post-15 development agenda.

2) As a UK representative to the Colombo Conference on Youth I suggest the BYC formally recognise the engagment of human rights and human security in conflicted and post conflict societies. The Colombo declaration suggests an increase of intercultural exchanges based on human/children's rights are mandatory in gaining a full understanding of the rights available to us and therefore enable young people to challenge violence and conflict accordingly.

3) I suggest the BYC engage with either the UK young ambassadors / national youth councils in order to form a structure to allow youth representation at UN level. This could be done according to the UN framework already in place for such national programmes. This would mean that UK youth would have a stronger voice on their position within the post-15 agenda and offer reliable feedback on the position of the Colombo Declaration at such an important time regarding global development.

Comments, debates and advice are encouraged in the comoments section below.