On Monday 4th March a group of Integrated AlumNI members visited Stormont urging politicians to “listen up” to the views of young people.
MLAs Colin McGrath, Kellie Armstrong, Colm Gildernew and Mike Nesbitt, along with Councillor Rachel Woods gathered at Parliament Buildings to welcome Laura McCance, Stuart Irwin and Michael Lynch of the Integrated AlumNI, Richard Lemon of the Integrated Education Fund and Nancy Eaton, a past pupil of Lagan College who compiled the ListenUP! – Young People’s Voices report.
The booklet is drawn from conversations at the ListenUp! event which took place on the 15th of November 2018. It was hosted by the Integrated AlumNI and it brought together 80 people aged 16-30 from a variety of youth groups and schools to question and challenge politicians. Representatives from the five largest NI parties listened to round-table discussions on topics such as education, mental health, and a vision for the future, before being invited to give feedback on what they had heard. Politicians then signed a pledge to engage further with young people and to continue the conversation.
The report reminds politicians of that pledge and also reflects the comments, questions, concerns and challenges voiced at the round-table discussions last November.
Presenting the publication, Michael Lynch commented:
“The aim of the ListenUP! Event was to develop engagement between politicians and young people. We are grateful to the politicians for being part of this valuable process. We want to encourage a new type of inclusive politics for the young people of Northern Ireland, and we think that this report is a refreshing reminder of what they want for their home.”
Commenting at the November ListenUP! event, UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt MLA said:
“The panel of all these parties shows that if we go away for five years or five minutes and come back we will still be Republican, Nationalist, Unionist, Loyalist and Other and we have to build relations and work together. You have shown me I have to work harder at relationships – YOU can do that and you have shown me that.”
Kellie Armstrong Alliance MLA added
“The young people weren’t afraid to challenge. It always strikes me that people coming from outside tell people here how great Northern Ireland is… we need to start saying that ourselves. This event has told us things … you have a strong voice and don’t lose that.”
You can find the report here: https://view.publitas.com/integrated-education-fund/listenup-young-peoples-voices-report-march-2019/page/1
The Integrated AlumNI would like to thank Sam Fitzsimmons and Maddy Bridgman at the Integrated Education Fund for their support in helping us to get this project off the ground.
*The ListenUP! event was supported by the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) - the charity (registered as NIC104886) which provides financial support for the development and growth of integrated education. Our aim is to enable children to learn together in an environment that celebrates religious and cultural diversity, making integration, not separation, the norm in the Northern Ireland education system. *