On the 19th November 2015, a group of senior pupils from Belfast Royal Academy’s School and Pupil Councils and from our Politics Society attended the NICCY “Your Voice Matters!” event.

At this event, attended by a number of other schools and youth groups, we discussed specific topics in sub-groups including educational inequality, child poverty and mental health.  We then identified issues which we thought we could address and made an action plan as to how we could raise awareness about these topics when we returned to school.

In the poverty group, we identified a number of ways in which we could address child poverty, which we have since begun to put into action. Pupil and school councillors reported on what they had learnt back to their respective councils. We also hoped to raise awareness in school about the stigma surrounding poverty; to this end we decided it would be a good idea to hold an assembly on the issue. I prepared a power point on these issues and presented it to both junior and senior assemblies, trying to raise awareness of some of the negative stereotypes surrounding child poverty in Northern Ireland.

Issues surrounding mental health were discussed in Politics Society. The group who had participated in discussions about mental health also decided to address some of the issues raised by bringing up the matter with the school’s Wellbeing Committee.

Discussions about what could be done to address mental health issues in school are ongoing in this committee.

Niamh Carroll