Young people with a passion for politics and ambitions to have a positive influence on Warwickshire have been selected for the county’s Youth Council – and met virtually for the first time. The...
Young people with a passion for politics and ambitions to have a positive influence on Warwickshire have been selected for the county’s Youth Council – and met virtually for the first time.
The 15 councillors were announced at an online event in March and will be in office for 12 months.
New members were elected for Nuneaton and Bedworth, Stratford-upon-Avon, Rugby and Warwick. They were joined by senior Warwickshire County Council members and officers for their first virtual meeting.
During their term of office, the youngsters will represent the views and interests of young people in their constituencies - both locally and nationally - by meeting councillors, MPs and other decision makers to take forward issues important to them. The Youth Council will also play a key role in county council’s Child Friendly Warwickshire initiative – which aims to work with children and young people to ensure their views are heard and make a difference across the county.
Gwilym Furn-Davis, a new youth councillor for Stratford, said: “I decided to stand for the youth council because I believe our generation deserves a say in how our lives are run and the Youth Council is a good way of getting our voice heard so that’s why I stood.
“The Youth Council is a great thing to be part of because it gives the chance to improve the lives of many young people across Warwickshire. My aims for next year are helping out with campaigns, public speaking and listening to people in our generation who want improvement in this area.”
Kezia Hine, a new youth councillor for Rugby, said: “I decided to stand for the Youth Council because I wanted a chance to make a change and it would give me a chance to express my opinions and listen to other's opinions… the Youth Council gives us a chance to make new friends and it gives us opportunities - like Youth Conference.”
New and old youth councillors would normally gather at Warwickshire County Council’s chamber in Shire Hall, Warwickshire, for their inaugural meeting – but lockdown rules have meant most activities have been online over the past year.
Members continued to hold virtual meetings every month to work on their campaign strategy for environmental issues.
Outgoing member Mawgan Stinchcombe looked back: “During my time as a youth councillor, I have really enjoyed working with councillors and the county council to improve our county, especially through speaking up for young people. Whilst COVID-19 has had an impact on our work, it hasn't been too much of a hindrance, and in fact, meeting virtually has ensured that we can stay in touch with ease, and get jobs done far more effectively. I am glad to have served four years as a youth councillor, as I have been able to listen and represent those around me, selflessly."
Throughout 2020 youth councillors promoted their work to a much wider audience, including promoting the stay at home message to young people across social media with videos during the first lock down.
Youth councillors are usually elected by votes held across Warwickshire schools, but owing to COVID-19 school closures this year they were selected through an application process.
Nigel Minns, the county council’s Strategic Director, People, said: “The views and opinions of the young people of Warwickshire must be listened to – these are the people who will be shaping our future and there is no better way to start that than as members of the Youth Council. It is an incredibly important forum which enables the voices of young people to bring about real change. I thank all those youth councillors involved over the past year and wish the new members good luck for their terms in office.”
For further information about Youth Services in Warwickshire including the Warwickshire Youth Council visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tys