Young people are being given the chance to shape the borough where they live, as the nomination process for Hackney Youth Parliament gets underway.
The first group of potential candidates attended a training session at Hackney Picturehouse, where they learnt more about the role, took part in public speaking workshops and were given advice on how to write their manifesto.
Current members of Hackney Youth Parliament, Jermain Jackman and Rebecca Samuel, both 17, helped to run the session.
Rebecca said: “I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for when I applied, but it’s been amazing. I’ve learnt so much and had so many great experiences.
“I’m so much more confident now; I’ve had to get used to speaking in public, which is something a lot of young people don’t get to do. The things we do really make a difference to life in Hackney – we’ve got members on the council’s scrutiny board, we’re involved in safeguarding, we work with the police and loads more.”
Jermain added: “It opens up so many opportunities for young people; I’ve learnt so much and really enjoyed it. We’re looking forward to mentoring the new members.”
The elections take place in October with polling stations in Hackney schools, colleges and youth clubs during Local Democracy Week. At the last elections in 2010 more than 4,000 young people cast their vote.
The Parliament consults young people on their views, makes sure their voices are heard and keeps them up-to-date on issues that affect them. They also plan youth and community events, elect representatives to the national UK Youth Parliament and attend regional and national events. Young people can vote according to the area they live or go to school in.
Cllr Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The Hackney Youth Parliament has real influence, as well as being a fantastic way for young people to get involved and make in difference in Hackney. The members give us a unique insight into what young people think and want from the council, so they do a really important job.
“There are also some great opportunities open to members; from trips to represent the borough at national events to training which can be useful for college, university and job applications – and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.”
A further training session will take place later in the summer. For more information or for an application form visit www.younghackney.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org