Young People and Their Rights: the CRC in Manchester

By Guest Blogger: Mariam Waseem

I was lucky enough to be a peer facilitator at BIHR’s ‘Human Rights Here and Now’ event in Manchester this August. The event was extremely informative and focused on educating young people about the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); what it entails, why we have one, who is involved in its creation/implementation and how we young people can get our voices heard.

First, we went through the history of human rights and learned about past events that led up to the creation of the CRC. We then looked at what the CRC is, who it effects and how the CRC is protected. It was particularly interesting to learn some schools have signed up to follow the CRC.

Next, groups discussed human rights in general. We did this by categorising the stages of youth into baby, toddler, child and teenager. For each phase of life young people brainstormed and discussed what rights are required at different times in your life. We found the rights of a baby were much more basic than the rights of a teenager but still crucial and fundamental, and those that applied at a young age stayed with them throughout the life of a child, for example the right to a family or clean water. We then looked at the rights in the CRC in more depth and the young people got a good idea of what the CRC actually entails.

The next activity focused on the key players involved in the implementation and scrutiny of the CRC. The facilitators played the role of different key players in the process, such as charities or the government, to raise awareness of the CRC examination process within the UK. Once we had a much better understanding of the CRC, groups examined the rights and prepared a presentation on a theme they believed needed tackling, such as education, participation or non-discrimination. They then presented these to a mock committee. This was my favourite part of the event; it was fantastic seeing so many inspiring ideas presented by passionate young people.

Lastly, we discussed youth participation locally, regionally and nationally and were informed about what currently exists (e.g. the BYC and UK Youth Parliament). We also discussed what people thought were the barriers to getting involved and what else may be needed to encourage young people to be active citizens. This touched on the influence young people should/could have on key decision makers.

I think it’s important for organisations like the BIHR to host events like this, as educating young people on their rights enables them to be able to go about their daily life more prepared and equipped. I know a lot of useful information now and I hope to pass on what I have learnt and encourage other young people to research the CRC and gain a better understanding of what is out there to protect them.

Human Rights Here and Now: young Londoners tell us what they think

DSC_0689[1]

By BIHR guest blogger Sosa

 

Summer holidays are in full swing and yet, on a cloudy day in August, BIHR were getting ready to host the London leg of the Human Rights Here and Now project. With funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), BIHR designed three young people’s events which focused on engaging young people with their rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The events provided a way to foster much needed conversation concerning young people and their rights by providing a crash course on how the Convention aims to protect young people’s rights. The day was also a great opportunity to inform them on how they could get their voices heard on the issues that matter to them.

At the Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch there was a room filled with eager young people who had come to the event from as far as Norfolk. The day was packed with talks and activities and was accompanied by a live artist depicting the day’s events on a large canvas. After a quick icebreaker the young people were shown the articles from the CRC and this was used as a starting point to launch discussion on the rights of young people.

The knowledge and energy that the young people took from the day was particularly evident in the presentations the young people made to a mock committee. Many of them, initially shaky and shy, really came into their own. For example, one young person used her experience of growing up on Traveller sites to inform her understanding of human rights. Constantly having to move because of the changing law and improper implementation, she described how many in her situation had little education or faced bullying and discrimination in schools. Another young person spoke about the lack of opportunities to participate in human rights mechanisms. How, despite events such as this, young people aren’t given a voice in human rights discussions. All of the groups spoke about a desire to improve opportunities to engage and set a goal of actual CHANGE.

We then delved into a bunting making session, with many teens (and BIHR staff and volunteers) rekindling their nurseryDSC_0625[1] years by playing with glitter glue and felt tip pens. Yet, in the midst of such fun an important plea was made: the young people need more. Although some were armed with information that was impressive to hear, sadly many of them weren’t.   Many were not clued up on what rights were afforded to them at all, and this event provided basic learning, not improvement of knowledge they already possessed. Many had issues they wanted to voice, almost all that would be helped by encouraging and facilitating their engagement with human rights discussions.