Home > Uncategorized > Grand Council member’s letter to the minister

Grand Council member’s letter to the minister


Having been a former member of Funky Dragon myself, understanding how much a change the organisation makes, I am shocked, saddened and angry that the government has practically slapped their back hand at the organisation. After 12 years of massive successes -Bullying policy, Safer Buses, Participation Standards amongst others showing that the youth led organisation is well capable of representing and listening to the Young People of Wales. More than 15 years of achieving Uk and even world firsts, the Welsh Government has practically told it- thanks but no thanks for all your hard inspirational work.

The voice of young people is important – to have it led by the young people is even more important, no agendas other than that of the young people. Alternatives would be a backstep in the wrong direction and goes against the fibre of what Wales is working towards.

Young people and adults of Wales- please help in showing your support to an amazing organisation which has changed the live of many thousands of children and young people in wales over the years. #pleaselistentoJoel Lets show them we care !!!

More info and case for funky Dragon via http://www.funkydragon.org/en/campaigns/case-funky-dragon/

(here is the Grand Council’s Letter to the minister )

Dear Jeff,

As you are aware Wales has lost it’s only youth led organisation, which is the only one of its kind that reports directly to Welsh Government on issues that fundamentally effect all aspects of young peoples lives within Wales! When we spoke I said how this decision to end funding for Funky Dragon has not only caused the organisation to not be able to support children and young people in their fight for their rights. But has affected connections within Britain and Europe. I also expressed my concerns about the consequence this decision has on the local youth forums and councils. In Caerphilly, as you are aware of, we hold such an outstanding forum and organisation for young people. In recent years we fought for alcohol and drug misuse, leisure services to be improved – where we changed council policy for a second time – And for all playgrounds in Caerphilly to become smoke free. With Caerphilly being the first in Wales, this ban has now been rolled out to primary schools where it’s not permitted to smoke within a play area or around and in a school within the borough. Caerphilly youth forum has changed council policy twice now, thanks to the efforts of young people. After our success. As a representative of the forum, took this idea to ASH Wales/Cymru, here you can see the case study created because of the work we did in Caerphilly – http://www.ashwales.org.uk/creo_files/upload/campaigns/case_studies_english.pdf – as a representative I also took this to funky dragon, a network for young people to come together and talk about the amazing work young people do. The young people of funky dragon then took this to their councils and now only 5 counties in Wales aren’t some free yet. (But have plans to create this legislation). As a result of what Caerphilly in partnership with funky dragon did, we made Wales smoke free. As assembly member for Caerphilly I’m sure you’re proud of what we have done. Although without the partnership with funky dragon Wales wouldn’t of known about this. We wouldn’t be able to save the health of children without this amazing organisation that is run by and for young people.

Over the past 12 years Funky Dragon, as the Youth Assembly for Wales, has become more than a third sector organisation. It provides the only national democratic structure providing formal and clear process through which children and young people can express their views to the Welsh Government and Assembly at the national level. With Funky Dragons continued support from organisations like the British Youth Council and the United Kingdom Youth Parliament, the United Kingdom Young Ambassadors organisation, Scottish Youth Parliament and Northern Ireland Youth Forum, Funky Dragon has become a shining light within British and European youth politics. This has allowed Wales to have a standing ovation within Europe and the House of Commons at the UKYP annual debate, showing the rest of the UK what Wales has achieved and what we can do!

Funky Dragon has many principles but one of the biggest and the only organisation in Wales to have this, is that, Funky Dragon is managed and run by children and young people, adding value to our organisation which is so effective. This independence has profound practical significance and would be destroyed if it was to engage in a joint submission with an adult led organisation. Why? This is because Funky Dragon is the only organisation of its kind and joining with an organisation which is adult run would destroy’s our main principles and destroy’s the key attributes we as an organisation has. To allow Funky Dragon to survive provides an important mechanism for accountability to children and young people. Children and young people under the age of 18 in Wales can’t vote therefore, have limited success to holing the assembly members and members of parliament to account. Funky Dragon provides an effective alternative structure through which young people can encourage the Government to fulfil its obligations towards them as citizens of our country. This decision to end financial support to Funky Dragon has sent distressing signals to the children and young people of Wales, that the Welsh Government’s commitment to hearing their voices is no longer a priority. That the young people of Wales, the next generation of voters are being forgotten about, left behind and out of the question when it comes to decisions that effect them. This in its self doesn’t shows the next generation of votes a great deal but how their voices are now left behind and in theory – to many of young people – aren’t important to Welsh Government.

I would like to turn your attention and Welsh Government’s attention to when looking at the application whether or not you considered the following.

Recognising the unique nature and independence of such an organisation.

Youth forums/ councils and other youth organisation in Wales contribute to Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child. Funky Dragon on the other hand has a unique nature of how it’s done at national level. This enables Welsh Government to meet obligations of the United Nations Convention the Right of the Child. It is the only organisation of its kind to have the structure which allows children and young people to take their issues from a local matter to a national concern. The only organisation that’s role it is to get members of parliament and assembly members to meet with these young and discuss how these politicians will support their demands and concerns for the voices of children and young people. As a result of this unsuccessful application the principles of the organisation will be gone if Funky Dragon has to submit an application that will see Funky Dragon having to join an adult led organisation. Losing the value of a young persons led organisation, with the principle that children and young people having the right to their own independent organisation will be gone. It will then be considered to be another organisation that works for children and young people rather than the organisation being led by the children and young people. If this is the case the organisation and young people will lose out on their national voice, policy makers and service providers will lose the opportunity to directly work and have direct input from children and young people, the next generation will be denied the benefits of this twelve year organisation which has grown from strength to strength. The Welsh Government will lose its reputation of being an international lead in promoting the rights of children and young people and the international children’s rights community will lose an effective and powerful example of how to make participation and youth involvement to a national scale work and work effectively. We need to recognise the existence of Funky Dragon being an independent children and young person led organisation. Promoting a message to the youth of Wales that they matter, showing the UK, Europe and the world that Wales is a strong nation that is leading the way in children’s rights. The organisation allows children and young people to be assured that their voices, views and concerns will be heard; and that young people will make a different.

Wales and the British Government on dealing with the implications caused by this decision.

The committee on the Rights of the Child has made it clear that “Children should be supported and encouraged to form their own child-led organisations and initiatives which will create space for meaningful participation and representation.” It would be highly embarrassing and disappointing for the Government to have to report back to the committee on the Right of the Child that the organisation (Funky Dragon) which was last praised in the last Observations was no more and repot that it has lost its independence. And report that Welsh Government were not committed in supporting the organisation. I will not stop until survival of this independent Funky Dragon is secured and placed as a priority nationally and upon the international stage. However, the solution must be to explore possible approaches to reduce costs and identify alternative sources of funding. Funky Dragon has never had to bid for funding, we had always been given the funding, having to bid for the funding came a shock to us as we knew without this funding there will no longer be an independent, young person led organisation. We want to know why Welsh Government took this funding from us in the first place and why we had to bid for this funding.

Funky Dragon has become widely recognised in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Europe. Recognised for its efforts in promoting the voices of Children and Young people. Funky Dragon has allowed young people the opportunity to stand up in the House of Commons, voice the issues young people in Wales have and debate on issues that effect us. Through Funky Dragon it has allowed young people to make connections with other young people around Britain and built connections where young people can share ideas, concerns and think of ways to act upon this. Through funky dragon young people have been to Europe to talk about issues that are effecting Wales and come up with action plans on how young people, through out Europe, can work on this together. In Wales we have UK young ambassador supported by Funky Dragon, without Funky Dragon Wales will lose this. The consequences this decision has on the organisation holds massive implications for the young people, losing friendships, losing their voice, losing the chance to represent their constituency, losing the faith they had in Welsh Government, losing the opportunity to shine, the opportunity to be somebody, losing the chance to make change, to encourage change and their right to an independent young person led organisation.

You asked me what I thought this decision held over our constituency. Can I first start off by staying it doesn’t just have impact on our constituency but every constituency in Wales. Caerphilly along with Wales would have lost three – which was four before cuts were introduced – representatives to take issues from Caerphilly to a national organisation where we had faith that these issues would be worked on effectively and have results. Caerphilly will lose the connections between forums, councils and other organisations. Caerphilly would have lost their voice nationally. And, it’s not only Caerphilly that would have lost this but the whole of Wales would have too. I don’t believe this will just have an impact here in Caerphilly but a significant impact on youth voice on within Wales, the United Kingdom and Europe. This decision also has a major effect upon the children and young people whom I represent within Wales and the UK. I also have a concern for not only the young people I represent but the youth forums and councils they represent.

10 years ago, the welsh Government were committed to supporting and having engagement with Funky Dragon. Though out Funky Dragon and the young people of the organisation cast critical opinions on your work and offered to work along side you and other AMs to resolve issues to better situations for young people and holds you to account. Funky Dragon proves that it is an enthusiastic and highly effective independent organisation, allowing children and young people the opportunity to inform and influence Wales political agenda. This has shown today in First Ministers Questions where two members of the opposing parties spoke about Funky Dragon and it’s survival. This organisation has made a name for itself, values of good practice shine though out the organisation and Wales and the Welsh Assembly should be equally proud of its achievements. It is also important to justify whether children and young people are entitled to their own independent youth assembly to which Welsh Government are still committed to. If so, Welsh government should explore all ways/routs/possibilities to ensure the survival of such an organisation. If not, Welsh Government need to say honestly and be open with the next generation of voters to why it’s no longer prepared to give children and young people a national and international voice. And explain why Welsh Government are not prepared to lead the way in youth voice and continue holding this prestigious organisation.

I as a representative of children and young people in Caerphilly and Wales ensure that the survival of an independent Funky Dragon, with the original principals of this organisation stay a unique and vital cause in fighting for the voice or children and young people. And that the organisation is continued to be ran by children and young people for children and young people. Placing Wales in the lead to protecting children’s human rights and protecting the voices of millions of children and young people.

I am very much looking forward to meeting with you on Friday the 11th.

Yours,

Joel Nathan price.
(8th July 2014)

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