By 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 nursery 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.