By Charlie Doherty, Youth Engagement and Development Officer
Last Thursday, I and some members of the Traveller Movements Youth Advisory Group took part in the Traveller Movements annual conference titled ‘Future Voices’. As the Youth Engagement and Development Officer, I was tasked with being a panelist, where I was asked a question about what rules should be changed to help young people access education and then go on to get good jobs. I gave quite a lengthy answer, but to make a long story short, I said that education should be much more flexible to accommodate the personal circumstances of Irish Travellers, Romani Gypsies and Roma, and that we shouldn’t have to choose between our culture and a good education. I also chaired and contributed to one of the workshops titled ‘Is there any room at the in?’ which was about Irish Travellers, Romani Gypsies and Roma being denied access to places such as pubs and restaurants.
My brother, our intern, and a member of the Youth Advisory Group, Jimmy Doherty, co-hosted the event alongside the Chair of our Board of Trustees, Pauline Anderson. He then went on to contribute to the workshop titled ‘From margins to movements: building political power for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller Youth.’ where he talked about the importance of young people becoming involved in politics in order to see a change in this country that will benefit their communities.
Our Youth Advisory Group Members Shannon Roncari and Mikey Lawrence contributed to our workshop titled ‘The different paths to a prosperous future’, and finally the secretary of our Youth Advisory Group, Crystal Grace Smith, contributed to our workshop titled ‘Spotting the red flags: healthy relationships and wellbeing.’ and then ended the day with her closing keynote speech.
All in all, the day went well, with the participating youth receiving positive feedback throughout the day. It was very important to us that authentic youth voices were heard when discussing youth issues, so we were glad that various members of our Youth Advisory Group were kind enough to contribute to the day. We look forward to our next events where we will hopefully be able to increase youth participation even more.