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UL and Limerick Youth Service host Limerick Be Heard conference

Members of Limerick Youth Service & UL with colleagues at the Limerick Be Heard Conference.

UL and Limerick Youth Service host Limerick Be Heard conference

A two-day conference hosted by Limerick Be Heard, a collaborative group consisting of Limerick Youth Service, the University of Limerick’s Dept. Politics & Public Administration and Limerick Comhairle na nÓg recently, during which representatives from a number of International youth and higher education organisations participated.

Limerick Be Heard was founded in 2016 and aims to increase political participation and civic engagement amongst groups of people whose voices are seldom heard in electoral discussions. The conference, was held at the UL Plassey Campus and Limerick Youth Service with likeminded colleagues from four continents invited to the conference.

A number of interactive workshops and networking events took place with delegates sharing examples of youth democracy and how they engage with you and marginalised people in their respective communities.

 ‘We discussed ways to increase participation in politics in a way that is inclusive, creative, subversive, diverse, respectful and even fun,’ explained Dr. Maura, Adshead, UL’s Politics Dept.

‘We learned different ways to engage with young people to develop their confidence and capacity to affect change,’ said Dr. Adhsead adding ‘we shared ideas of projects that enable young people, from a variety of backgrounds, to get involved in the democratic system and make a difference.’ 

Speaking about the conference Limerick Youth Service’s John Real said it was a ‘fantastic and engaging two days.’

‘The conference operated as an idea exchange firstly but will now become the platform for collaborative youth led projects that will broaden the horizons for young people as part of a global community,’ said Mr. Real.

There is a bright future ahead for the Be Heard initiative, the next gathering has been set for South Africa later this year with Cape Town Be Heard, Boston Be Heard and close to seven Swedish groups also taking part in the initiative.

 ‘Looking to the future, youth exchanges, both virtual and real, more collaborative projects and a sharing of ideas, resources and funding opportunities are just some of our plans we are working on,’ said Mr. Real.

Reflecting on a hectic two days, Limerick Be Heard thanked the many organisations that made the conference possible with a special mention to the local young people who ‘were great ambassadors for their city, community and peers.’

Among the institutions involved were representatives from Sweden’s Arbetarnas Bildningsförbund (National Worker’s Educational Association), the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, the South African based International Federation of Educational Associations (IFWEA), the University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA and the youth organisation, ZAK Malta. 

Limerick Comhairle na nÓg is one of the thirty-one youth councils throughout Ireland that give a voice to young people on local services and policies.

A member of Youth Work Ireland, Limerick Youth Service remains committed to supporting and encouraging young people to be active participants in shaping their futures.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.