YW February 2024 newsletter (English)

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Young Wales Newsletter February 2024 www.childreninwales.org.uk

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Safer Internet Day


National Youth Stakeholders Group – Update


Mental Health and Well-Being in the UN Report


Kai’s Story


Get your votes in for Make Your Mark


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Safer Internet Day Tuesday, 6 February 2024

This year’s Safer Internet Day fell on Tuesday, 6 February 2024 and our Young Wales Keeping Safe Online Group were busy preparing for a day jam-packed full of fun activities.

Members of our Keeping Safe Online Group have been busy in preparation for the big day, and we caught up with them in November to ask their thoughts about this year’s theme.

So, what’s it all about?

“It’s hard to protect your children when everything is changing, [like] restrictions and boundaries”

Safer Internet Day (SID) is a worldwide campaign created to get people talking about all the amazing ways we can use technology, and how we can support each other to use it positively and responsibly. You may have heard of Safer Internet Day from getting involved in school activities, or from Young Wales activities. This year, the theme for SID is ‘Inspiring Change? Making a difference, managing influence, and navigating change online.’

The group shared that they felt it must be difficult for parents of children who are online, because it is hard to keep up to date with new technology, and constantly trying to understand what is safe and unsafe. “There are things you can put on apps to prevent you from seeing stuff, but they don’t always work.”

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One young person outlined their experiences with settings like ‘Restricted Mode’, which helps to erase potentially upsetting or questionable content from feeds before people see it. However, although settings like this benefit young people, they shared that it isn’t always a successful method of staying safe online. “It’s hard to keep up…everything is always changing, really fast and really quickly.” Another group of young people shared that they struggled to keep up with new trends and updates when using technology, which can often leave them feeling isolated or confused. To recognise this year’s theme of managing influence and navigating change online, our Keeping Safe Online group is teaming up with the Welsh Rugby Union at Principality Stadium. Our volunteers will be talking to WRU staff and players about the challenges faced online by players, and what actions they take to tackle them, and use technology positively. Our Keeping Safe Online Group are also working with their counterparts in Ireland, WebWise to develop a youth-led video for Safer Internet Day 2024. The volunteers were posed the question, “What would you like to change about the internet if you could?” The collaborative video will be premiered on Safer Internet Day at the Principality Stadium, and the group look forward to sharing it on HWB and Young Wales socials. If you would like to get involved in our Keeping Safe Online group, or learn more about what our volunteers get up to, check out our section on HWB: https://hwb.gov.wales/keeping-safeonline/keeping-safe-online-youth-group/latestnews-from-our-youth-group

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National Youth Stakeholders Group – Update A newsletter with a Mental Health and Wellbeing Focus seems the perfect place for an update on the NYSG and so here it is… If any proof was needed to point to the importance young people place on Mental Health and Wellbeing (MH&WB) then the Young Wales report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child provided it. MH&WB was ranked second in importance with only the Cost of Living Crisis given more prominence by the YP themselves. The National Youth Stakeholders Group is for young people with lived experience or a special interest in relation to MG&WB. The group aims to address mental health issues shared by young people, and review MH&WB initiatives by the Welsh Government and other organisations across Wales. The group have been very active and over the last 6 months, amongst other things, they have fed back experiences of the Whole School Approach, fed into the draft of the new Mental Health Strategy and had an input into the development of both the NYTH / NEST

Training Resource and the NYTH / NEST Self Evaluation Tool. The YP made comments and suggestions on both content and layout with the underlying message of ensuring that a Children’s Right approach is central to both of the NYTH / NEST developments. Their input is clear and will be revealed at the launch of both the training resource and the self evaluation tool launch on 28 February 2024. Members of the group are presenting at this online launch details are in the link below (1). Focus will turn back to the draft Mental Health Strategy in the Spring with an online / hybrid session planned for April and a wider consultation at the Young Wales residential in May. Any young people (14-25 age range) with an interest in joining the group should contact russell.baker@childreninwales.org.uk.

1. Business Wales Events Finder - NYTH/NEST Implementation Tools Workshop (business-events.org.uk)

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Mental Health and Well-Being in the UN Report

In February 2023, Young Wales (YW) volunteers went to Geneva to meet with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. In preparation for this, the YW volunteers had worked with staff to coproduce a report on children’s rights in Wales. You can find the report here. Different sources of information including consultations, a survey, and reports from other organisations were used to inform the report and 13 priority areas were ranked. For each area, recommendations were given on how to help children access their rights. One of the priority areas in the report was Mental Health and Wellbeing. The report gave five recommendations for this area: • • • • •

Increased levels of support and earlier intervention Ensure better access to services Offer a wider range of services Increase visibility and normalise mental health Create Safe Spaces

In May 2023, YW volunteers went back to the UN. This time, the UN Committee talked to the UK Governments - including the Welsh Government. After this, the Committee wrote a report with recommendations for

the Governments (1). It showed how the Governments could make sure children who live in the UK can access their rights. Part of the UN report focused on Mental Health and Wellbeing and it made a series of recommendations for both the UK and Welsh Government. This report is part of an 8-year cycle and YW will now work with Welsh Government to prioritise the report’s recommendations. This work will begin with a consultation with YP at the YW residential this month.

1. OHCHR - (2023). Concluding observations on the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/ treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2F C%2FGBR%2FCO%2F6-7&Lang=en

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s ’ i a K

y r o t S

Hi I’m Kai and I have been battling with my mental health for a few years now and I would like to share my story to make those of you out there with similar experiences/situations understand that you are not alone. I started having issues with my mental health in the 2020 lockdown where I initially came to terms with the fact that I am transgender. Coming out to friends and family was hard but by having those accept me for who I was I felt good within myself finally feeling happy. Despite this my school life became stressful as I got outed at school, I suddenly went from no one knowing to my whole year and while most were supportive, I faced a whole world of discrimination and hatred in a place which I once thought was safe for me. It made me

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feel like I was losing my mind, but I did have someone to help me through it all my darling dog Spirit, I know it sounds stupid, but I could tell him anything, he knew when I was sad and he’d comfort me, and even for the last few days he stayed by my side never leaving. On the 20th August 2020, Spirit passed away at one years old and this broke me, to be honest I haven’t been the same since.

I turned 18 in October 2023 and that’s when everything changed. I began telling myself that I wasn’t the problem, that I can get into university and I can do anything. By changing my attitude I felt my confidence grow. I began to do things that made me happy again like going to the cinema and having sleepovers with my friends, taking my siblings to the park, Playing with my new dogs; Loki and Radar and the thing that has helped me the most is my volunteering, by being a part of Young Wales and other youth councils I feel like I am making a difference, helping those around me who cant speak for themselves and that is what drives me to keep on living, living the life I want too. I’m going to be honest with you all, things still aren’t great, but I have gotten myself out of the dump which I was in, and if I can, you can too! I promise that even though it doesn’t seem like it, life will get better for you.

At the start of 2023 my battle with depression had only grown worse, I had become isolated in my school life, I had no friends to talk to, my only friends were ones on the other side of Wales. I began thinking that I was the problem and that no one would want me. Throughout the year I found myself fighting the urge to SH, I developed coping mechanisms to distract myself such as art and listening to music. Art was a huge help to me, I was able to put my feelings into my drawings when I couldn’t speak about them, it also gave my brain a chance to relax. I was also put on antidepressants to try and bring back my old self. As my depression worsened, I found myself unable to focus at school, and unable to do anything but just lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. My gender dysphoria worsened to the point I could not even look at myself in the mirror. I had lost who I was.

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Get your votes in for Make Your Mark – 29 January to 8 March 2024

Are you a young person interested in making a difference? Do you want to Make Your Mark, and have your voice heard? If you’re aged 11 to 18, British Youth Council have the opportunity for you! The Make Your Mark vote is happening all over the UK, giving you the chance to share your thoughts on the issues that impact young people most. The ballot paper topics are selected by the UK Youth Parliament Steering Group, working together with Members of Youth Parliament from all over the UK (including our MYPs here in Wales!). The topics include: • • • • • • • • • •

Education and Learning International Relations Health and Wellbeing Rights, Equalities, and Democracy Jobs, the Economy and Benefits Crime and Safety Culture, Media, Sport Climate Change and the Environment Transport Youth Work and Young People’s Services

Thousands of young people take part in Make Your Mark, influencing hundreds of different youth-led projects and campaigns all over the UK. Your vote lets your local authority know what matters to you, and this can influence what projects and services you may be able to get involved in!

After the votes are finalised, Members of Youth Parliament will debate the issues that young people voted as most important. They will campaign to influence UK parliament, ensuring that youth voice is heard by decision makers, and put at the forefront of positive change. Voting is open now until Friday, 8 March 2024, so Make your Mark, and get involved! To cast your vote, follow this link for more information: https://www.makeyourmark. youthimpact.app/register/me If you want to learn more about getting involved in UK Youth Parliament, please email Frances.Hoey@childreninwales.org.uk

21 Windsor Place, Cardiff CF10 3BY 029 2034 2434 @ChildreninWales info@childreninwales.org.uk childreninwales.org.uk

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