To celebrate our 10th anniversary, Kirklees Youth Council have been reflecting on our experiences so far. We have supported a group of Young Commissioners to gather evidence and make recommendations for the future. Our Young Commissioners were responsible for:
- Representing the views of young people in Kirklees.
- Helping to plan and co-ordinate engagement activities.
- Encouraging young people, schools and partners to get involved.
- Reviewing the evidence gathered throughout the process.
- Making recommendations, based on the evidence.
They have also been supported by an Independent Commissioner from the University of Huddersfield Students Union and a wider group of Kirklees Youth Councillors.
Being a Youth Councillor has completely changed my perspective of the world. I have found an interest in democracy and politics that I never knew I had, developed my social skills, planning skills and confidence. As well as showing me that I can have a say in what happens in my local area.
I have become a young commissioner to make sure that young people in Kirklees continue to have the same amazing opportunity that I have had, to spread what I have learnt in my time as a youth councillor and to further develop the skills and knowledge that being a member of Kirklees Youth Council has taught me.
I believe I can make a great contribution to the commissioner team, as I give a different angle to many issues. I come from a sporting working class background (instead of an academic or creative one) and many people, especially the youth, from this community are believed to be disenfranchised and to not care about politics.
I personally believe this is due to methods of outreach. I think that having someone from this community benefits the team, as I’m able to explain the best way to reach members of that community.
The Kirklees Youth Council has served us well – from giving us bags of skills to the ability of having a ‘voice’. So I feel compelled to offer back some deeper commitment and to give this project my highest priority. It’s my upmost privilege to be a young commissioner.
I’ve developed an understanding of young, capable, opinionated individuals. Paired with my training and qualifications, this drives me to contribute ideas to the project. I want to represent other young people with their valued views and work towards an enhanced Kirklees Youth Council.
I want to take the opportunity to work with as many partner organisations and young people as possible, to engage with and represent the views of young people in Kirklees. A group of varied young people from across Kirklees are best placed to engage with the evidence and to look at ways of better involving young people in active citizenship.
I have had experience representing young people on Kirklees Youth Council and elsewhere, and want to be part of the ‘Growing a stronger youth council’ project.
It’s important to listen to young people because they are the future and their wants and needs matter. Also any political decisions made could affect them. This gives youngsters the impression that their opinion is valued, that they are supported, giving them confidence and a voice.
Being a youth councillor is important to me because it has helped me gain confidence, leadership skills and problem solving skills. This has given me the confidence to share my opinion during any discussions. I hope to make a positive contribution and a positive change.
Jonathan Stephen – Independent Commissioner
In my role as President of the Huddersfield Students’ Union, I was fortunate enough to work with an eclectic range of students, developing projects, supporting students to access relevant and appropriate support, as well as campaigning for and supporting students to make change(s). I am particularly passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion and ensuring there are networks for liberation groups including BAME, LGBTQ+, Trans, Disabled and Female students, to form safe spaces and influence change for themselves and their peers.
This is one example why engaging youth in democracy is so important to me, in supporting the younger generation to exercise their democratic rights and strive for a society that represents us.