Putting young people at heart of community planning

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Representatives from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council have attended a conference about the role of young people in community planning.

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People partnered with the Department for Communities for the seminar, which brought community planning partners together to explore their duties and responsibilities under the Children’s Services Co-operation Act.

This law makes sure that agencies are working together in the best interests of children.

Community Planning Partnerships, led by local councils, have a wide range of powers and duties to deliver better services and better outcomes for everyone. Community plans identify long-term priorities for improving the social, economic and environmental well-being of districts and residents.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Joan Baird OBE said: “It is crucial that the voice of our young people is given its rightful place as we plan the future of our area, as they are best placed to identify their current and future needs. A partnership approach is at the heart of community planning and I’m delighted to see the role of our children and young people recognised in the process.”

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: “Community Planning Partnerships have a duty to include children and young people when they develop their plans and then implement their shared vision for their area. The plans will include delivering better training, education and employment opportunities and outcomes, growing local creative economies and tourism, having fit for purpose transport services, health initiatives and safer communities. Each and every one of these issues, and many more, directly impact on the lives of children and young people.”

Leo O’Reilly, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities said: “The governing legislation specifies that councils and community planning partners seek the views of the community, encourage them to express their views, and take their views into account The legislation reflects our shared understanding of “community” in its widest sense, and this includes children and young people. Community planning provides a mechanism for everyone’s views to be included in developing the public services in their communities, from childhood into adult life.

“As part of the work in building a full picture of the views and concerns of citizens in districts, Community Planning Partnerships have an awareness of the diverse needs of the children and young people. This seminar demonstrates that there is a strong commitment to meaningful and sustained engagement with our children and young people.”

Tommy O’Reilly, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education said: “Working together to improve the well-being of all children and young people in Northern Ireland is essential if we are to deliver the positive long lasting outcomes. The Children’s Services Co-operation Act provides the legislation to enable public sector organisations to place the well-being and rights of children and young people at the centre of all of their policies, strategies, programmes and services.”