Briefing - young people's voice in North Yorkshire

The North Yorkshire Youth Voice Executive is supported by the county council’s voice, influence and participation team. It first met in February 2017 with representatives of young carers, LGBT+ communities, school councils, the Flying High group for people with disabilities or additional needs, the Young People’s Council for people who have experienced care, Military Kids Clubs for children of service personnel, Selby and Harrogate youth groups and county members of the British Youth Parliament.

Read more below.

The Youth Voice Executive enables diverse groups of young people to present a unified voice to decision makers on issues that can improve young lives.

Stonewall, Britain’s lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity, has named North Yorkshire County Council as one of the best local authorities in Britain for tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. 

Raising awareness of mental health issues among young people has been one of the early achievements of the Youth Executive.

Mental health has been a priority for the organisation and members have created a flowchart offering tried and tested support for concerned young people. The aim is to have the flowchart available in every secondary school in the county. 

Emily Capstick, chair of the Youth Voice Executive, said: “I speak to people daily that say to me ‘I am really struggling at home and really struggling with my schoolwork and my mental health suffers because of that’. It is a massive issue and to tackle it young people have said to us that they need quicker access to services, so we have made this flowchart. It lists useful links that we have checked and that we know are fantastic for young people to go to.

“We also plan to create a team of young inspectors. This will be a group of young people who, under a Caring Cultures Awards scheme that we are developing, can go into schools and evaluate their services relating to mental health, life skills and environment. Schools would then be asked to make changes based on the inspectors’ findings.

Before being elected to the role of chair, Emily was one of the county council’s young advisors, who help community leaders and decision makers to engage young people in community life, local decision making and improving services. They guide local authorities, housing associations and other partners in what it is like for a young person to live, work, learn and play in their neighbourhood.

Emily says: “I am so grateful to have been the founding chair of the North Yorkshire Youth Voice Executive: the way in which we have empowered a diverse range of voices and enlightened decision makers with bottom-up feedback has changed for the better not only how the council is run, but how it is perceived. Teaching young people to speak up is the bedrock of building a tomorrow we can be proud of and the Youth Voice Executive structure encourages participation at every level. Our next generation faces multiple threats, ranging from climate change to cuts from social services. The least we can do is to make sure the county council is in their corner!”

In the video below, Emily talks about the work of the Youth Voice Executive and some of its achievements.