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Moving Minds - March 20th 2014

Moving Minds



The United Nations (UN) has declared that every year, March 20th will be observed as the International Day of Happiness. The day recognises that happiness is a fundamental human goal and calls upon countries to approach public policies in ways that improve the well-being of everyone. For these Fermanagh politicians, they may have felt less than happy in feeling the heat from local young people and host Rodney Edwards, brought together by YouthAction Northern Ireland, on crucial issues of mental health, emigration and youth unemployment.

March 20th, as well as International Day of Happiness, had a local significance, as young people and politicians came together as part of the ‘Moving Minds’ event, organised by YouthAction NI, in the evening, at the Enniskillen Hotel. Moving Minds is an interactive event that gives young people a direct audience with those decision makers and policy-makers in our society. This event, organised through the GET SET Project (promoting the employability of young people in Fermanagh) and the Right Here Fermanagh project (building mental health for young women and young men across Fermanagh), makes explicit links between mental health, emigration and youth unemployment. Should I stay or should I go? What’s it like being left behind as others leave? How do you cope with the isolation of rural living? What if you are out of work as well, with no income to speak of? How can you build a good life and future for yourself? - these are some of the burning questions for these young people, but probably the question at the heart of ‘Moving Minds’ is ‘WHAT ARE YOU POLITICIANS DOING ABOUT THIS?’

At ‘Moving Minds’ young people had the chance to discuss themes that influence their lives and use their discussions to generate questions for a panel discussion at the end of the evening. The panel of Counsellor Brendan Gallagher Raymond Farrell and Tom Elliott MLA were joined by Minister Arlene Foster (Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment)and Phil Flanagan MLA engaged with young people on how they are addressing the issues most critical for Fermanagh young people.

In a poll conducted of the 55 young people, when asked ‘is emigration becoming essential for young people in Fermanagh’, 63% agreed, with one young person stating their fear of the long-term impact – ‘I don’t want to be stuck in an empty Fermanagh’. When asked ‘are there enough good jobs for young people in Fermanagh’ a convincing 97% said No and the rural issue were cited in these conversations time and time again – ‘business wouldn’t do well in Fermanagh, even if I set up one’ or ‘I would set up a business if I was in the city’. 50% of the young audience agre

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