Welwyn Garden City YMCA residents talk youth justice at United Nations

TWO young residents of the YMCA in WGC have returned from Switzerland, after spending two weeks discussing youth justice at the offices of the United Nations.

Chris Barker and Daniel Congo-Ashanti, who both live at the YMCA in Peartree Lane, flew into Geneva for the 14th session of the Human Rights Council – as part of the Youth Justice in Action Campaign, which seeks to make justice systems around the world fairer on young people.

Chris and Daniel were part of a party of young people from England, Ireland, Togo, Sierra Leone and Guatemala, who spoke with ministers and gave presentations, calling on the UN to put more pressure on governments to adhere to a resolution made last year, Resolution 10/2, which demands fair treatment for young people in conflict with the law.

“The youth of today isn’t that bad,” said Chris, 19. “It’s just how it’s been portrayed. People think that anyone our age wearing a hoodie is going to stab you or steal from you. It’s not the case.”

Daniel, 23, said: “Being able to be a part of making decisions at the UN – people work all their lives to get an opportunity like the one we’ve had.


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“That’s overwhelming, it’s great stuff. It gives you a better perspective on life.”

Chris praised the YMCA for the opportunity he’s been given: “I’ve been given the chance to go on a plane for the first time. And I’ve got a job through them. They’re doing some amazing things, and going over to the UN I saw it on a bigger scale. It helps so many people.”

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They were accompanied on their trip by Central Herts YMCA support worker Heidi Rochford.

“All of those selected to represent their country either have direct experience of youth justice or feel passionate about campaigning on its behalf,” said Heidi.

“We were in Geneva for two weeks, and were supported by Y-Care International and the World alliance of YMCs who gave us training in parliamentary lobbying and debating techniques – this was to ensure that we represented our case in the best possible way.”

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