Youth and Democracy hits the road

Programme Officer Munny Purba recently attended the North-South Peace Event in Belfast, as part of our Youth and Democracy project. Here are her reflections on her trip.

Belfast. A city steeped in history, both beautiful and brutal, and the first stop on my regional tour as part of Cumberland Lodge’s Youth and Democracy project. My mission? To gather the perspectives of young people across the UK on what democracy means to them. This information will fuel a series of workshops designed to empower emerging leaders to engage their communities in democratic participation, and to strengthen democratic systems throughout the UK.

It was within the grand walls of Belfast City Hall that I participated in the North-South Youth Peace Event, invited by the organisers, the Northern Ireland Youth Forum. This wasn’t your typical political gathering. This was a vibrant exchange of ideas, fuelled by the optimism and energy of young people from both the Republic and Northern Ireland. Together, they tackled weighty themes: North-South relations, political stability, and the challenge of misinformation. Despite this, a powerful sense of unity emerged. These young minds connected over their desire to build trust, overcome historical divides, and design a brighter future for the entire island. Importantly, the presence of representatives from parliament ensured these discussions had the potential to translate into real policy changes.


Come along with our Programme Officer Munny as she heads to Belfast, the first stop of her regional visits for our Youth and Democracy project πŸ“πŸ—ΊοΈ You can read all about her trip on the Cumberland Lodge blog πŸ“ Stay tuned for more!

♬ Happy Mood – AShamaluevMusic

The true highlight of my trip came after the conference, at the Northern Ireland Youth Forum headquarters. Here, I had the privilege of leading a focus group discussion with some of the young people, which centred on our key question: what does democracy mean to them?

The conversation was both honest and insightful. Some felt a disconnect in how and where to go to use their voice to affect the issues they care about, other than voting. They emphasised the importance of teaching political literacy at a young age, avoiding the need to “catch up” later in life. Furthermore, they stressed the need for politicians, particularly those in Westminster, to be more accessible. They hoped for more of a direct line of communication, a way for their concerns to be heard and addressed within the complexities of the political system. This desire for accessibility reflects a critical need for a bridge between young people and those in power.

The trip was an eye-opening experience. Belfast is a city where the past is always present, yet the future is actively being built by a generation determined to heal old wounds and forge a path toward lasting peace and prosperity. It’s a city brimming with culture, history, and most importantly, hope β€” a hope driven by the voices of young people who believe their ideas can create a brighter tomorrow.

We will be sharing videos of Munny’s time in Belfast for the Youth and Democracy project on our TikTok page.