Our thanks to the staff and pupils of Hillside Primary School and to the Newsome ward councillors, who were the first to try out our new style “Meet your councillors” session in October 2020.
A group of young people from Hillside Primary and teacher Keith Lockwood met Cllr Andrew Cooper, Cllr Karen Allison and Cllr Susan Lee-Richards online. The councillors explained what they do and shared some examples of local activities that they’ve been involved in, explaining how people work together to make their local place better.
What do councillors do?
“It’s our job to listen to what you have to say.”
“We love to go out and meet people, so this year has been really difficult for us too.”
“Our main job is to solve problems, we try to find a way to help people.”– Newsome ward councillors
We then asked the children to share a little about what life has been like for them this year, during lockdown and beyond. This gave a real insight into how young people are feeling, and what family life has been like.
How did you feel when lockdown was announced?
“I was disappointed, I couldn’t see any of my friends”
“It made me really sad”
“It was boring”
“It’s still a bit weird”
“I came back to school, but I wasn’t in my class any more”– Hillside Primary School pupils
The young people we heard from have clearly missed being in school. They have also seen how things have affected their parents, and these experiences have stayed with them. Some of their parents have been delivering food for foodbanks, some have been in arguments in the supermarket asking people not to take more than they need, and some have been kept awake by others having parties late into the night and have struggled to get to work.
What would you change or keep from this time?
“People cared more about hygiene and cleanliness, but everyone litters”
“I want people to think about others, to understand that what they do affects others”
“I really liked that you could spend more time with your family”
“I would change the time. We could have spent those six months getting an education instead of worrying about the virus”– Hillside Primary School pupils
The children asked lots of questions. They were interested to know how lockdown has affected the councillors, and whether they can still get things done in the local area. We also talked about specific things that the young people might like help to change where they live, and how councillors can help with that.
What would you like help to change where you live?
“Without littering our area would be nicer”
“We keep finding nitrous oxide cannisters on the road and in the grass”
“Some people have parties, make noise all night and leave all the litter the next day”
“There are loads of cars down our street so it’s difficult for me to sleep”– Hillside Primary School pupils
As well as giving practical advice about reporting local issues, the councillors were keen to hear more about what the children might like to do next. The children were interested that people care a lot more about their personal hygiene because of the virus, yet not everyone seems to care about keeping their local place clean. This is something that they would definitely like to be able to change.
The councillors explained that they can offer use of their ward project budgets to support an idea from the children in school. Mr Lockwood said that being able to make something happen based on their ideas would be really important for the young people: “It would give them faith in local democracy”.
At the end of the session, the councillors shared a summary of what they had heard:
“I’ve heard that you like living in nice places, where people are nice to each other and where they care – you want more of that. I really heard that you love school and think that’s a great place to be. “
“You’re genuinely concerned about your area, and about your family and friends. I’m very impressed by what you’ve said – you and your school should be very proud.”
“This session is finished, but we’re still here – keep talking to us and let us know how we can help.”– Newsome ward councillors
Be a Democracy Friendly School
Please get in touch if you’re part of a local school who would like to meet your councillors. You are also very welcome to sign up for our Democracy Friendly Schools programme (open to schools for any age group in Kirklees).