New youth councillors elected in Breckland

A new generation of politicians will be representing young people's interests and opinions in Breckland.

Breckland Youth Council welcomed 14 new members from across the district during a reception held at Swaffham's EcoTech.

Under a unique system designed to ensure young people are heard loud and clear, members will be given the opportunity to attend some of Breckland Council's committee meetings.

They will also attend full council meetings to present the minutes of their own meetings.

Lynda Turner, executive member for localism, community and environmental services, said: 'The youth council provides young people with a direct voice in local

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decision-making and recognises their needs and ambitions.

'We hope to encourage the district's youth to take on leadership roles today and offer them the necessary skills and encouragement to take an active role in democracy for the rest of their lives.

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'The views of young people are just as important as those of our older residents, and for this reason, we need to make sure young peoples' voices are acknowledged.'

And it seems the elected youngsters already have ideas about what they want to see happen.

Sophie Malby, aged 11, said: 'I'm really excited and the whole process has inspired me to apply for my school council. I think there is a lack of youth clubs and activities for young people in Swaffham and I would like to get involved in making sure there are plenty of things for young people to do.'

In total, 46 young people aged of 11 to 19, applied to become new youth council members.

After two days of interviewing applicants, the previous youth council voted for the new members.

The full list of youth councillors is: Aaron Protheroe, 13, of Dereham. who wants to improve local areas, Paige Viner, 13, of Brisley, who wants to change the perception of young people and make facilities more accessible, Mary Young, 17 from Dereham, who believes in young people having a voice, community spirited, activities for young people, Kristina Fox, 12, of Dereham, who will bring fresh ideas and get young people involved in activities, Katie Harrington, 14, of Dereham, who wants to give the youth a voice in the community, Jennifer Faherty, 17, of Dereham, who believes in young people having a voice and she will listen to young people, Stuart Green, 18, (chairman), Charles Mead, 13, of Griston, who wants to give youth a purpose and help in the community, Joseph McLoughlin, 17, of Thetford, who wants to fight stereotypes and represent his peers, Matthew Sibley, 15, of Kenninghall, who wants improvements in transport, to correct misconceptions of people, making improvements, and creating equal opportunities, Candice Sears, 18, Kelsey McTaggart, 18, of Ashill, who believes in giving a voice to young people, Sophie Willis, 17, of Swaffham, who wants to give young people better opportunities, Lewis Hanrahan, 18, of Swaffham, who believes in community teamwork, Sophie Malby, 11, of Marham, who goes to school in Swaffham and wants to give young people their say, James Whitehead, 16, (treasurer), Hannah McNicol, 15, of East Harling, who wants to prevent kids getting into drugs and alcohol, helps Chapel Rd students with cooking as a volunteer, Jordan Bailey, 17, (vice chairman).

The new youth council will meet for the first time on November 22.

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