I’m not normally the biggest fan of Youth Councils as they seem to be a way of replicating the mistakes of "adult councils", but they do have their place.  Equally, though, I don’t believe any council should set up a Youth Council and think that the job of youth engagement is done.  Not only does the YC need to have a real role, but it should be recognised that it doesn’t cover all young people.

Covering off the first part of giving the YC a role, Cllr Mary Reid, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People at the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames, reports on how she has proposed that the Kingston Youth Council becomes a "formal consultative committee" to the Council. 

This sounds like a simple way to avoid merely paying lip service to involving young people in council decision making.  To really make it work, of course, they need to be doing more than merely paying lip service to consultation in general and I’m sure a 3-star Council like Kingston does.

A Youth Council is one good way of giving young people a voice.  We’re working on a project (Codename:  Cllr Buddy) to help councillors keep in touch with young people through other means.  I hope to post more about it soon.

1 Comment

Mary Reid · 23rd March 2006 at 2:30 pm

Of course, if the Youth Council was the only channel through which the Council consulted with young people then we would be seriously remiss. Kingston has consultation embedded in everything it does, so young people are consulted – and targetted – on all sorts of things. For example, a special children’s consultation leaflet was produced on the first Children and Young People’s Plan and over 300 children responded. That was fully reported and their ideas incorporated into the Plan.
The Youth Council was not ‘set up’ by the Council. It has been the work of a previous member of the UK Youth Parliament who had the vision to see how an advisory group for the youth service could become a voice for all young people around all the services they use. They have formulated the structure, membership and constitution themselves. I made sure that the Council recognised them formally.
After the May elections they are going to create shadow portfolio posts to create direct personal links between the Council’s Executive and their team. The initiative is with them. My job is to make sure they set their sights high enough and to put them in touch with the right people.

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