YOUNG people are being urged to enter the world of politics – and improve their lives and those of their peers.
The Wiltshire Youth Council was launched last year, with representatives from secondary schools across the county elected to speak out on issues that are important to them.
Now, schools are being invited to encourage 11–17 year-olds to stand in elections next year, which take place between Monday, January 29 and Friday, February 2.
There are also three youth councillor community seats available for young people who live in Wiltshire but do not attend school in the county.
Wiltshire youth councillors have the power to:
• Meet up with Wiltshire Council leaders and have their say on local decisions.
• Work with area boards to ensure funding for youth projects has the right impact for them and their peers.
• Inspect services to ensure they represent young people’s best interests.
• Easily communicate with their peers so young people’s views are properly represented.
Youth councillors will be elected for a one-year term and will be asked to commit one evening per month to attend a full youth council meeting, which will focus on issues important to them.
They will also be expected to talk to their peers about issues and represent their views.
There will be training to support youth councillors in their roles, covering topics such as debating, running a youth inspection and delivering presentations.
Current youth councillors have been involved in a wide range of areas, including the Wiltshire Healthy Schools programme, the allocation of youth grant funding, mental health services and cost of living advice and support for young people.
Youth councillors also supported the first ever Wiltshire Youth Pride event and the Youth4Ukraine campaign, which raised more than £12,000.
Cllr Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The best way to ensure that we are meeting the needs of children and young people is to empower them to influence the key decisions that will have an impact on them.
“The Wiltshire Youth Council gives young people an influential voice that can take forward their priorities in a wide range of areas including transport, climate change, youth services and education.
“This year’s youth councillors have made a fantastic contribution to how we deliver services and opportunities for children and young people, and I can’t wait to see what next year’s youth councillors get up to.
“We will support anyone who wishes to stand as a Wiltshire youth councillor and we want to encourage a wide range of young people to take part.”
Young people who are interested can find out more information at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/article/1451/Children-and-young-people-s-voice. They can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.