Jan 28 2014

Harrow’s young people called to stand for elections

harrow_council_logoHarrow Council is calling on young people to stand for the 2014 Youth Elections which take place from February 10 to February 14.

It is an opportunity for those aged 11 to 18, and passionate about issues affecting young people to help get their voices heard by key decision makers.

Supported by Harrow Council’s Electoral Services and organised by the Youth Development Team, the elections offer young people a chance to become a member of the Harrow Youth Parliament (HYP) as well as potentially becoming a member of the national Youth Parliament (MYP), where they can represent the borough’s young people on the national stage debating at the UK Youth Parliament annual sitting at the House of Commons.

Elected members will campaign for two nationally selected campaigns in which this year are a Curriculum for Life and Votes at 16.

Nominated candidates contesting for the elections from schools, colleges and youth organisations should be submitted to their school or youth group by Monday, 3 February 2014.

Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, Councillor Janet Mote said: “We are committed to help and empower young people in the borough. Being part of the Youth Parliament gives young people a fantastic opportunity to represent their peers on issues that matter to them the most and finding solutions to these. It also give them a chance to learn about the democratic process whilst helping to influence positive change by standing for election. I encourage young people in the borough to take part and represent young people across the borough.”

Members of HYP have regular meetings with the director and cabinet member for Children and Families services to influence youth policy and discuss the progress of HYP sub group projects – projects based on issues raised during consultations with service providers and children, young people and their families. The groups include crime and safety; health and wellbeing; youth facilities; commissioning and monitoring; and social media.

Examples of how they have affected change and have influences decisions include:

  • Working with the Metropolitan Police designing and distributing ‘Stop and Search’ cards.
  • Raising awareness of mental health and working with Health Commissioners to improve the work of school nurses.
  • Arranging holiday programmes at Children’s Centres for teenagers. Youth volunteers have plans to organise regular sessions for young people.
  • Co-designing and co-monitoring of services for children, young people and their families.
  • Redesigning and updating the Youth Website, and promoting good news stories from young people in local and national media.

Members also have seats on influential boards and committees, for example the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cedars Youth and Community Centre board, to ensure that youth voice is taken seriously in decisions that affect children, young people and their families.

Recently elected Deputy MYP, Jay Karia, 17 said: “I felt that young people were excluded in key decisions made and being part of HYP has helped make a difference to myself and peers. I’ve helped out in the community as well as express views and opinions to local councillors. I encourage young people in the borough to take part and stand for election because it will allow them to voice their issues and help make a difference to themselves and 60,000 other young people.”

MYP for Harrow, Liam Ackermann, 15 said: “I’ve been part of the Youth Parliament for three years a big achievement was raising 1,600 ballot papers out of 3,000. I also represented Harrow at the House of Commons last year where we voted and debated various topics. It is definitely worth taking part in the elections, as the rewards outweigh the time.”

Deputy Chair of HYP, Cory Lawrence, 17 said: “There are a lot of issues that young people in the borough have, but they don’t know how these can be addressed. Being part of the Youth Parliament allows you to represent young people and voice these issues to the decision makers.”

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