Northern Ireland: South Eastern education board kicks off anti-racism campaign

By Dipika Ghose

| 02 March 2005

An awareness campaign to encourage young people and youth workers to tackle racism has been launched by the South Eastern Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland.

The All Smiles Are Equal initiative follows an ongoing review of how all five youth services in Northern Ireland handle diversity issues, and will involve posters being sent to every youth centre in the region.

The campaign will also attempt to make young people from minority groups feel welcome at youth centres and clubs.

Matt Milliken, assistant advisory officer for community relations at the board, said: "There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence where youth workers have said they've heard casual terms of racial abuse being used by young people at their clubs. In the past it used to be sectarian, now it is more racist, xenophobic or homophobic."

A Northern Ireland-wide diversity audit is being carried out to ensure youth services meet the principles contained in the Joined in Equity, Diversity and Interdependence (JEDI) frame-work. The review will involve every full- and part-time youth worker employed by education and library boards as well as youth service volunteers.

The five youth services are conducting the audits internally and will use the outcomes to assess what action they should take to improve their work.

Milliken said: "There is a lot of uncertainty on how to address the needs of groups not traditionally known to services. We have been meeting youth workers from the other boards every couple of months to share information and to critically reflect on progress."

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