More councils in the UK should have youth councils as they help bring important perspective to decision-making, argue two prominent young politicians from Oldham.
In an exclusive interview with LGC, Hamra Hanif-Ali, 18, the newly elected Young Mayor of Oldham, and Charlotte Clasby, Chair of the Oldham Youth Council, explain what Youth Councils are and why they are so crucial for young people of today.
When asked if all councils should have youth councils, Charlotte replied: ‘I would say definitely, as it helps people in the area to have their opinions and voices heard. And that’s really important wherever you are in the country.
Hamra had previously served as a member of the Youth Council until 2022 when she decided to stand for Oldham Youth Mayor and was sworn in on Wednesday June 29.
“I joined the council when I was in ninth grade. I was one of the youngest in the school play and the older kids were on the board. They were telling me about how they went to events in London and Poland, and I just thought that was really cool,” Hamra explained.
“And they were talking about how they had met other people from different districts, from different schools, and how everyone was coming together and sharing ideas.”
Have a positive impact
As well as being exciting and rewarding for council members, they said the youth council also has a very positive effect on the young people of Oldham.
“We run a lot of campaigns around Oldham,” Charlotte said. “We go through schools, we raise awareness of important issues such as mental health and knife crime, we organize events around the results of the consultations we have carried out with young people.”
Hamra gave an example of how the youth council has a close relationship with Oldham MBC: “We are able to give full motions to the council, that’s where we think if there’s a problem that we’ve talked and we think it’s important, then we’ can bring a motion to the council, for example a knife crime. »
Knife crime has been a major problem in Oldham, with one in seven young people admitting to carrying a knife. To help prevent this problem, Hamra and the youth council regularly visit schools and hold events and workshops to help prevent knife crime in the area.
“It was something the youngsters felt was a big deal because of the security surrounding it.”
Identify the issues that matter
The Youth Council participates in Make Your Mark, a national consultation through the British Youth Council once a year. This is a questionnaire to understand the issues that concern young people at local and national level. The Youth Council can see national and local issues and address them with Oldham MBC.
Three issues the survey identified locally were knife crime, domestic violence and mental health.
Hamra said: “We are able to see as a youth council what Oldham’s priorities are and what kinds of areas [young people] want us to prioritize more.
Regarding the difference youth counselors can make, Hamra said: “There has been a shift in perspective on the importance of young people’s voices because I know that organizations are now trying to implement the opinions young people.
She said many youth organizations have shown interest in working with the Oldham Youth Council this year.
She added: ‘I think it’s important that you can see that there’s a lot more involvement from organizations and people, because they know that making sure they’re doing good by people and not just do what adults do: they go what we think too.