Youth parliament elections get underway
By poppy_smith | Sunday, October 07, 2012, 15:24
Budding young politicians are canvassing across the borough in the run up to the Hackney Youth Parliament elections.
Thirty-seven young people, aged 11-19, are standing for election, and each of them has produced a manifesto, setting out how they would make a difference in Hackney and why other young people should vote for them.
Voting takes place in schools, colleges and youth clubs between 10-16 October, when candidates in each of Hackney's four neighbourhood areas will be elected as members of Hackney Youth Parliament.
The youth parliament plays a vital role in representing young people and feeding back their opinions and ideas to key decision makers.
Members of youth parliament are elected for two years and the 2010-12 team have achieved some impressive results. They acted as youth ambassadors during the Olympics and were rewarded with top tickets to the Games; they launched a campaign called Exam Stress, aimed at helping young people cope with exams; representatives sit on the council's Children's Services scrutiny committee; and they've been involved in helping the police to develop their stop and search policies in the wake of last summer's disturbances.
They also input into council decision making and organise events aimed at young people across the borough. The youth parliament was heavily involved in designing the new Young Hackney centres which are due to open later this month.
Current members of Hackney Youth Parliament, Jermain Jackman and Rebecca Samuel, both 17, will act as mentors to new members.
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."
Cllr Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "The youth parliament elections are a chance for young people to influence how things are done in Hackney. The people who are elected will represent young people and feed back your opinions, concerns and ideas on a local, national and even global level.
"The current youth parliament have made a really valuable contribution to life in Hackney. It's no easy task; they work really hard and have made a real difference. I have been particularly impressed by the efforts that they make to consult their constituents on all issues."
Copies of candidates' manifestos will be distributed at schools and youth clubs and can also be viewed online at www.younghackney.org. A hustings will take place on 9 October from 6-8pm at Stoke Newington Town Hall.
The results of the elections will be announced at Hackney Town Hall on 17 October at 5pm.