Posted: Wednesday 11th October 2017
As part of Local Democracy Week (October 9-15) our Young Commissioners have been sharing their stories throughout the week on Facebook and Twitter about what local democracy can do for young people, and how the council listens to people’s views.
The Young Commissioner programme*, supported by YC Hertfordshire, allows young people to directly influence the outcomes of services that affect themselves and their peers; introducing a new perspective previously underutilised in commissioning services.
Read Tom and Sophie’s stories about what local democracy means to them and how you can get involved.
“Never be scared to speak your opinion because your voice matters”
Tom Culley, aged 17 is a Young Commissioner and is now also Broxbourne’s Youth Mayor, who got involved in local democracy through his local youth council. He said, “I was previously a member of youth parliament and wanted to ensure each and every young person’s voice was heard.
“As part of the local community, young people MUST be involved in local decision-making. Every age, race, sexuality and gender must be listened to and young people are a massive part of that process.”
As a Young Commissioner, Tom has been able to have a say on local issues, some of which have influenced the council’s decision. He said, “Currently, I am involved in the campaign team against an incinerator, planned to be built in Hoddesdon.
“I have also had a say on our local bus services and planning applications, which will have a massive impact on young people’s lives. I have even attended awards ceremonies to make sure young people’s achievements are recognised.”
Tom is keen to encourage as many young people as possible to take part in local democracy and make their voices heard. He said, “I think some people don’t get involved because it sounds scary and boring, but it’s a community, like having a chat with family who will never judge you.
“Young people will not always be informed about what is going to happen in their community which is why it makes their voices even more important. They are the driving force which may change the final decision of the local council.
“Never be scared to speak your opinion and try and join a local youth council because your voice matters”
“I’ve had a say about local transport and designated areas for young people”
Sophie Barber, aged 17, is passionate about local democracy and making sure young people have a voice. Her role as a Youth Councillor and a Young Commissioner, has led to her involvement in a number of council decision-makings and local issue campaigns. She said, “Local Democracy is important so people can be involved in local decision-making, and ensure amenities are suitable for the needs of the community.
“I have had a say about local transport and designated areas for young people - a place where they can go instead of hanging out on the streets. I have also had a say on the incinerator that is being proposed for a local area.
As a Young Commissioner, Sophie hopes to inspire more young people to get involved and have their own say on things going on in their local area. She said, “Some people don't get involved because they probably don't care enough to, or think that their opinion won't make a difference.
“Young people should have their say because it's the area they will grow up in and one day, possibly raise their own family. It's important there are enough facilities for young people, as it is their future after all.”
Find out how to get involved in Young People’s democracy, visit http://www.youthconnexions-hertfordshire.org/youth-work/young-peoples-democracy/young-commissioners/
*Young Commissioners are aged 11-19, up to 21 for care leavers and up to 24 with learning disabilities.