Three board members from Our Hearings Our Voice were recently invited to the CYCJ National Youth Justice Conference to deliver a lightning talk on children’s rights and the Children’s Hearings System. Rhys, Ciara, and Lisa planned a presentation to share their thoughts on how the Children’s Hearings System can better meet children’s rights, based on their own experiences. 

Rhys unfortunately wasn’t available to present on the day, but gave permission for his poem ‘This Feeling’ to be read, which painted a vivid picture of how overwhelmed a child can feel during a Hearing. Rhys’ poem was well received, with conference attendee describing is as ‘hard-hitting’, ‘powerful’, and ‘emotive’. Rhys’ poem can be found on OHOV’s interactive online Zine 

Ciara and Lisa spoke about how it feels when the rights of a child compete with the rights of others in the Hearings System, and how some of the language used to talk about children can cause them to feel labelled and stigmatised. 

This set the scene for introducing OHOV’s 40 Calls to Action, which relate to children’s rights to safety, participation, and information. Ciara, Rhys and Lisa chose to share the four Calls which resonated most strongly with them:

  • ‘Do not judge me. Get to know me. Try to step into my shoes and understand what my life is like and what is important to me’

  • Make sure I understand what panel members decisions mean for me and my family 

  • Give me information about how to get a children’s rights/ advocacy worker and/ or lawyer to support me

  • ‘Respect my voice by listening, believing, valuing and including me when deciding what happens in my life’

Lisa and Ciara concluded the talk by reiterating the importance of listening to the voices of those with lived experience and of taking action now rather than later. 

Ciara, Lisa, and Rhys received fantastic and well-deserved feedback from attendees at the conference, and were commended on Twitter throughout the day, for their impactful presentation. 

Fiona Dyer, Director of CYCJ passed on, “a massive thanks to Ciara, Rhys, and Lisa for their fantastic contribution to our Youth Justice Conference. It was really great to hear about the work of Our Hearings Our Voices…thank you for sharing how we can achieve a rights-respecting children’s hearing.” 

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