20/09/2021

Other News In Brief

New Belfast City Youth Council Announced

Belfast City Council has announced the establishment of a new Belfast City Youth Council.

The council is now recruiting 40 new members from communities across the city to help shape its future for young people.

Formerly known as Belfast Youth Forum, the new Belfast City Youth Council is aimed at people aged 13 - 18 years old.

Successful members will sit on the Belfast City Youth Council for two years and will spend their time advising politicians and organising campaigns for social justice and children's rights as well as organising events to promote the voices of young people in our city.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl said: "The rebranding and new name of Belfast City Youth Council marks a new beginning for members and signifies how important the Youth Council is and its dominance at City level.

"In the past, Belfast City Youth Council members have always been dedicated and resilient in tackling the major issues facing young people in the city and I have no doubt that the recruits for the new term will be just as inspiring.

"Belfast City Youth Council provides a strong platform for our young people- and gives them the opportunity to use their collective voices to campaign for change on items such as mental health, climate change and poverty.

"I look forward to working with the new members closely and using whatever opportunities I can to ensure better outcomes for our young people.”

The Belfast City Youth Council has inspired lots of young people including past member Maria Aaroy who said: "I joined Belfast City Youth Council when I was 16 and the people I've been surrounded with for the last three years have shaped who I am.

"I have been given the best opportunities, spoken about issues I am passionate on and helped to create amazing campaigns. The Belfast City Youth Council has provided me and other young people with a platform where we can engage with key decision-makers to help bring about change where it is needed in our city."

Ministers Urged To Find A Way To Keep UC Uplift

The SDLP has called on the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Finance Minister Conor Murphy to find the funding to continue the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

Belfast councillor Brian Heading made the call after he met with Lord Mayor of Belfast Kate Nicholl and trade union representatives to discuss a strategy to retain the uplift.
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Councillor Heading said: "The message was unequivocal, we need to retain this uplift to stop forcing more people into poverty and into the arms of money lenders. Desperate people in our communities are often left with nowhere to turn as a result of increasing financial pressures and removing this uplift will only make things worse. I requested this meeting because I believe we all need to pull together, politicians, trade unions, businesses and other stakeholders to make the case to retain this uplift.

"The British Government have shown they have no intention of reversing their cruel and short-sighted decision so we need to take action ourselves. Our welfare powers are devolved and Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey needs to step in and secure this funding. Her party colleague Conor Murphy controls the Executive purse strings and he must find the £55.5m needed to continue the uplift for the rest of the financial year.

"People in Belfast and across the North are already experiencing huge levels of poverty and the removal of this uplift will only make things worse. More and more people are relying on food banks as utility and living costs rise. The decision to remove £20 a week from people while giving them a £100 high street voucher makes little sense. All this money goes back into the economy so surely it would serve the same purpose to retain this uplift so people have more income to spend? Removing this money while we attempt to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic will put businesses and jobs at risk.

"While it makes a difference our struggling families really need much more than £20 a week. We need to see a strategy from Minister Hargey to tackle the North's shameful poverty levels which remain among the worst in Europe."

Major Roadworks Announced In Gilford

The Department for Infrastructure has announced that a £153,000 carriageway resurfacing scheme at Woodlands, Gilford is due to commence on Monday 27 September 2021.

The improvement work will extend from the entrance of Woodlands development from the Lurgan Road for approximately 450m to end of development. The scheme includes resurfacing of the carriageway and upgrading of road drainage.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: "This significant investment will greatly improve the strength and surface quality of this section of the road network to the benefit of all who use it. I would like to thank the travelling public and local residents in advance for their cooperation while these much needed works are completed."

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