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Young people set out their futures as “the story I want my life to be”

Young people from Belfast’s Shankill have been telling the story of how they want their lives to be.

In a study co-produced between Queen’s Innovation Zones and the Greater Shankill Children and Young People Zone, young people got the chance to consider their current and potential lives with a qualified and trained adult pathfinder.

Queen’s has been working in partnership with the Zone since its inception and the Conversations project was designed and shaped locally with researchers providing a framework for delivery. The aim is to ensure these grassroots engagements ultimately shape community provision and government policy.

Welcoming the report, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer said: “The Conversations project is a wonderful example of how communities and academia can collaborate for effective change.

By placing children and young people at its core, Conversations has afforded a voice to, and is shaping a vision of, what the future might look like.

I wish all the children, young people and their families well on this journey and look forward to helping you achieve your ambitions.”

Key report author Dr Liam O’Hare said: “The Conversations process has given rarely heard children and young people from the Shankill the space to express the story they want their lives to be. Hopefully, this research report will engage an audience with the power and influence to create supportive pathways for them, and provide opportunities to hear more aspirational stories from children and young people in the Shankill.”

Jackie Redpath, CEO of the Great Shankill Partnership said: “The publication of this Report is a significant milestone on the Zone’s journey. The conversations with children and young people about ‘the story they want their lives to be’ is at the heart of our vision for the transformation of this generation. We greatly value the partnership with Queen’s University on this journey.”

Speaking about the report, Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma added: “Article 12 of the UNCRC addresses the right of children and young people to have their voices heard in all processes affecting their lives. Although it is more than that, Article 12 has more recently been translated into co-design. If serious about co-designing services with children and young people, then tapping into these conversations is the best place to start."


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