Young people take their concerns to decision makers

The voices of young people are being heard at the highest level in North Yorkshire thanks to a group set up by the County Council.

•	Cllr Janet Sanderson listens to Eden-Maia Shackleton, one of North Yorkshire’s Members of the Youth Parliament, during the meeting.

North Yorkshire Youth Voice Executive was formed earlier this year to bring together young people from across the county to represent youth councils, school councils, LGBT groups, young carers and looked-after children. The Executive has been working on projects about issues that concern young people.

These include the Unlocking Understanding campaign, which looks at both the impact of mental health issues on young people and the Curriculum for Life skills taught in schools, including politics, finance, employment and sexual health. In addition, task groups are looking at transport and the challenges faced by young people with disabilities and additional needs.

Now the Executive has presented its work to a gathering at County Hall in Northallerton of senior managers and decision makers, including the County Council, North Yorkshire Police, schools, safeguarding, health and leaving care services and Compass Reach, which supports young people affected by substance misuse, poor sexual health and issues relating to emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Ideas from the Executive include the creation of a flowchart to provide quick, readily available and effective mental health advice for young people and a Caring Culture Award that recognises work by schools to support young people. Youth Voice Executive members updated the meeting on their progress and explored how they would work more effectively with senior managers and decision makers to ensure their views are sought and considered when services are developed.

Emily Capstick, who chairs the Youth Voice Executive, said: “There is a real sense of excitement about the influence of young people’s views and the opportunities the Youth Voice Executive represents. We had a really good range of decision makers at the meeting and we are looking forward to collaborating with them.

“There are so many wonderful youth groups across North Yorkshire all trying to do the best for the young people they represent. The Youth Voice Executive is here to help them co-ordinate their efforts and make sure their findings are heard by the decision makers that matter.”

Emily says interest in the Executive is growing all the time and she receives increasing numbers of emails from young people about issues they want to address.

County Councillor Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children's Services, said: “There was a genuine exchange between senior managers and young people.

“The really interesting thing was the way everybody interacted without inhibition. For example, you had the director of children’s services talking to a 14-year-old on an equal footing. There was an open line of communication, with everyone listening and debating. This allowed diverse points to be expressed in a very relaxed manner.”

The meeting included a discussion of who attendees found inspiring.

Cllr Sanderson said: “It is quite clear that some of these young people are going to be an inspiration to those following them in lower years at school.”

Any young people who would like to know more about the Youth Voice Executive or to get involved should email nyyouthexecutive@gmail.com or VIP@northyorks.gov.uk.

This story was published 2 November 2017