Voices for Change is a visualisation of the hopes and aspirations for a better way of life for young people in the North West. The film calls for young people to become change makers for the future by getting involved through the power of democracy.
The film is the culmination of an 18-month programme which communicates the vision behind a ‘Manifesto for Change’ created by a working group of 35 young people as part of the Peace IV project that was delivered by Co-operation Ireland, the Education Authority and Pennyburn Youth Club on behalf of Derry City and Strabane District Council from September 2019.
The PEACE IV Programme is funded by the European Union and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
The North West Ministry of Youth – Youth Voices Project engaged young people aged between 14 to 18 years from Strabane, Derry and Donegal to represent the voice of young people at a political level. Co-operation Ireland Programme Manager Barry Fennell explained:
“This project, delivered by Co-operation Ireland in partnership with the Education Authority and Pennyburn Youth Club, provided a range of opportunities for youth to create change for the better and the work they carried out over 18 months, in a pandemic, has been just fantastic”.
The project, part of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Youth 19 initiative and funded through EU-PEACE IV-funded Local PEACE Action Plan saw the creation of a formal structure with departments that mirrored specific areas of responsibility within the Council.
The structure of the ministry was co-designed by the young people to lead themselves in identifying issues that needed to be addressed and changes they want to see in the North West. The group formed departments to address issues in education and training, mental and physical health, environment, arts, sports, equality and inclusion. Facilitators Anne Marie Bell and Chris Nichol spoke of the leadership, confidence and friendship that grew in the young people throughout the programme:
“The resilience and dedication shown by the group throughout a pandemic and the pressures of education has been amazing to witness. Each of the group has grown into confident young campaigners. The friendships developed have created a disciplined and empowering framework for young people to champion for change”.
The group completed development of a Manifesto, participation in media interviews, City Deal and campaigns such as the ‘Trousers for All’ leading to a motion passed unanimously within the Council Chamber setting out to change the school rules and allow young female students the opportunity to wear trousers if they so wish.
The development of structures for young people to have their voice heard in decisions that affect them is a key commitment within the Derry City & Strabane District Council Community Plan. Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr. Brian Tierney said:
“Council is pleased to have commissioned this piece of work to develop a partnership where young people have been supported to have their say. It is fantastic to see the hard work, determination and effort put in by the Youth Councillors in championing causes that are important to them and people their age”.
“The future is bright with young people leading the way, congratulations to each and every young person who has contributed to the development of the Youth Manifesto and at all stages of development and delivery of the North West Ministry of Youth”.
The short film was devised and created during lockdown by facilitators Peter Davidson and Tiarnan Larkin from the Nerve Centre who worked remotely with the group to devise, write and storyboard the short film. BAFTA nominated animator John McCloskey created the visual effects and local filmmaker and music producer Eoin O’Callaghan from Elma Orkestra shot the film and composed an original soundtrack.
BBC Radio Ulster presenter Stephen McCauley features in the film as he interviews the group about the manifesto and their vision for the future of the North West and its young people . Producer Eavan King from the Nerve Centre said:
“We had an absolute blast working with this group of young people. Their commitment, dedication and their knowledge of local issues and passion for change honestly inspired us. We are really proud of the work, filmed entirely during lockdown under the most difficult of circumstances. We want to thank the young people and everyone who supported us when filming. Particular thanks to Barry Fennell, Anne Marie Bell and Chris Nichol who led this project and encouraged us all the way”.
Peter Sheridan CEO of Co-operation Ireland congratulated those involved in the project:
“I am delighted to applaud and endorse the fantastic work of young people from right across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area who were part of our North West Ministry of Youth – Youth Voices Project from October 2019. It is important to note that the young people involved continued to actively participate from March 2020 online as the project shifted to Zoom. I really want to commend all of the youth councillors for their great work and efforts in pulling together their collective visions and their own film manifesto for other young people especially as they were doing this whilst their own lives were transformed by a global pandemic. I would also like to thank my own staff, the Education Authority Youth Service, Pennyburn Youth Club and the team at the Nerve Centre for their dedication and commitment as part of this fantastic Peace IV Project.”
Voices for Change, the short film produced by the Nerve Centre for North West Ministry of Youth is available to view online here: https://youtu.be/T3dsShCpknA