Young people who are part of the Bollo Brook Youth Centre in Acton, got the chance to express their views and inform the United Nations about their experiences of life in London.
Around 10 young people from the centre gathered with others in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in central London, eagerly awaiting the moment Professor Philip Alston came to sit with them and listen to the issues facing young people on a daily basis.
“It was nice to know that there was someone to listen to us and wanting to know our stories, this really made us as a group restore our hope in solving these issues we’re all facing,” said Hashim, 16.
Tayah, 19, added: “Being able to have the opportunity to have our voices heard collectively as a group of young people gives me a sense of hope and is a great reminder that all voices are valid. Regardless of what may or may not be done moving forward, we were able to take the first step by voicing our thoughts and experiences.”
The special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights made this meeting part of his trip to the UK to report his findings into the causes and effects of poverty. View the full report here.
“It was a very lively group of young people who expressed a real degree of frustration with the system. I think that the only way change is going to come about is if young people are making their views known and start saying that things need to be done differently and better for us,” said Philip Alston.
Meeting the special rapporteur was an unforgettable moment not just for the young people who attended but especially for Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director at The Equality Trust, who facilitated the meeting which was held on Monday, 12 November 2018.
“I think this has been one of the highlights of my career so far to see a bunch of really engaged, passionate, knowledgeable and articulate young people presenting their issues and their views on what poverty is doing to people and to them and their families to the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights,” Dr Wyporska said.
“The Equality Trust is extremely proud to be able to facilitate this meeting and we believe that this is part of a wider program for us to bring more young people’s voices to power. Because while policy makers are making decisions, they’re not listening to the voices of young people and lets face it, they’re our future.”
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for schools and children’s services, said: “Listening to young people is vital as they’re the future. Having the experience of speaking with Philip Alston will be of major benefit and will hopefully give the young people more confidence to speak about the issues they face. As a council, we take pride in listening to our young people to improve services.”