Youth Zones for Shared EducationNorthern Ireland Youth Forum
NIYF Today Launched its Vision for Youth Zones as part of the Stormont Executive’s Commitment to Shared Education.
A Youth Zone is a state of the art youth centre, which includes facilities for sport; arts; leisure activity; youth support services; educational activity and support; and offers a place for young people to chill out and socialise with friends.
Youth Zones have proven to be hugely successful in England and we have seen facilities being established in many of the major cities in the North of the country. They are attended by thousands of young people and represent amazing value for money and social return on investment.
The Youth Forum’s call is very simple – young people here deserve better; they deserve state of the art Youth Facilities. NIYF Chairperson Matthew Carson, on launching the Youth Zones Report has outlined that ‘Young people are continually marginalised; this is exacerbated by decades of government policy which has negatively affected the young. Society sees us as a problem; instead of investing in us as agents for positive social change and as leaders and business people who will ultimately pull us all out of economic crisis. We continue to face the brunt of austerity measures. We demand more! The proposed Shared Education Legislation and concept that we are putting forward provides a realistic proposal to help government fulfill its responsibilities to young people as well as to society at large in Building a United Community’.
‘We propose that every DE sponsored shared educational campus or facility includes a youth zone or elements of it. Non-formal education has been highlighted by the Minister for Education as a key component in young people reaching their full potential’.
According to the proposed legislation its is DE’s intention that all children and young people should have the opportunity to be involved in Shared Education – and that this includes ‘non-formal educational environments, such as youth work settings’.
Youth Zones as part of shared education will also support the Department of Education’s two overarching corporate goals:
- Raising standards for all; and
- Closing the performance gap, increasing access and equity.
It is proposed that Youth Zones should be delivered on a partnership basis – between young people; statutory; community; voluntary and private sectors.
They provide state of the art safe space for young people to engage in creative, educational, social and leisure activity. The main outcomes of a Youth Zone proposed are:
- Youth work relationships and opportunities to help young people to flourish;
- Promotion of good relations, a shared future, shared space and diversity (including different schools, ages, socio economic backgrounds) in the context of a divided society;
- Education, career, employment, self-employment outcomes;
- More opportunities and enhanced development for young people;
- A sense of dignity in young people as a result of ownership and pride in creating something as dynamic as this;
- Personal development including building confidence, communication and creativity;
- Wraparound support for young people;
- Breakdown of mental health stigma as a result of integrated counselling services and suicide awareness;
- Broadened horizons of young people;
- International opportunities;
- A hub of innovation and creativity with a volume of young people in one place that allows providers to become more innovative;
- Meeting the needs of young people and engaging them into their local community and local community regeneration;
- Greater sharing of resources between organisations;
- Working collectively to tackle NEETs issues and a more co-ordinated approach to tackling youth employment;
- Organisations merging.
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