Philip Dorian was named the new National Youth Representative at the National Youth Forum which was held recently in Athlone
Niveta Ramakrishnan was the second candidate for the position and both she and Philip spoke at the forum to explain why they should each be elected. Prior to the forum, many youth members had cast their votes by post, after watching videos of the candidates posted to the Irish Red Cross Youth Facebook page. It was a very close vote and the eventual winner was Philip Dorian who will take his position in 2018. Current Youth Representative Ciara MacAlinney’s term will be finished in April 2018.
The Youth Forum, which is a biennial event, is the most important in the Irish Red Cross Youth (IRCY) calendar as it gives youth members a chance to have their views heard and to participate meaningfully in decisions on the work plan for Irish Red Cross Youth for the next two years. It’s a wonderful chance for members around the country to mingle, network and develop friendships with their fellow volunteers. The theme of this year’s forum was “Celebrate Youth” and it opened with an upbeat ceremony that saw volunteers recognised for their achievements over the last two years.
Several interesting motions were passed at this year’s forum, such as the creation of a national talent show fundraiser, the development of a youth council made up of members aged 15 – 17, plans to develop programmes to (i) tackle racism, (ii) to assist young people in dealing with their emotions and (iii) to create a welcoming and respectful environment in the Irish Red Cross for members of the Traveller Community. All members from the ages of 4 to 25 inclusive had a chance to submit and then vote on motions and these motions will be used by the National Youth Working Group to shape the Irish Red Cross Youth plan until winter 2019. Discussions were held on the development of a new Irish Red Cross strategy and feedback will be given to the national strategic development committee shortly.
Workshops were a key feature of the forum. One new programme – “How to be an LGBT+ Ally” workshop is being developed in the form of a set of lessons youth leaders will be able to deliver to youth members all over the country. The workshop on this programme was delivered at the forum to youth leaders to gather their input before it is piloted. This was just one of many workshops given on the day.
The 2017 National Youth Forum also saw the introduction of the “Buddy Zone” which is a comfortable space, hosted by Buddy Bear (the Irish Red Cross’ anti-bullying mascot) where young people can sit, relax, chat, listen to music or engage in activities they find calming if they are feeling tired or overwhelmed by the large event. The “Buddy Zone” allows young people, particularly those who may be sensitive to certain sensory triggers, to take a step back without drawing attention to themselves, and to re-join the group when they feel ready. The Buddy Zone will be part of all national youth events from now on.