Mental heath, climate and bullying among issues for new Norfolk Youth Parliament
- Credit: Archant
Young people’s mental health, the climate crisis and giving a voice to those who can’t speak out are among the top priorities the new Norfolk Youth Parliament representatives.
The four members, or MYPs, were elected under a Norfolk County Council scheme to give young people a chance to stand up for their peers and change things for the better.
April Haywood is MYP for West and North Norfolk, Will Byrne represents South and East Norfolk, Emilie Brown represents Norwich North and Alice Galley is MYP for Norwich South.
Their role will include meeting members of parliament and local councillors, organising events and debates, running campaigns and making speeches. Their central role is to make sure the views of young people are listened to by decision makers.
April, 16, is a student at Paston College.
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She lives in Sheringham, and said she was inspired to become an MYP by Malala Yousafzai, an “incredible advocate for girls’ education and children all over the world”.
April said: “I would also like to try and empower young people, by representing us in Youth Parliament.”
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She said young people should not face disadvantages if they lived in smaller communities.
April said: “In Norfolk it is mainly rural, but this shouldn’t affect the opportunities and livelihoods of young people here. I believe improved transport, education and services would really improve things.”
She said the environment was another important issue.
April said: “The government declared a climate emergency last year and many young people have been protesting for the planet.
“We have the power to change the direction of climate change, if we make it the priority and at a local level this can also be done.”
Will, who is 12, said he became a MYP because he has “always wanted to make a difference and improve the lives of people in the community”.
He said one thing that would help make Norfolk a better place for young people would be to: “Educate young people on what it means to belong to different groups and protected characteristics”.
Will said another issue that should be tackled is “bullying in spaces that are regularly used by young people”.
Alice, who is also 12, lives in Norwich and attends City of Norwich School.
She said: “I have always enjoyed making my voice and opinions heard and I knew that I would be good at speaking out for those who maybe couldn’t.
“My main goal is to educate young people on the different types of mental health illnesses, so they can learn overcome them in the right way.”
Alice said another thing that would improve Norfolk for young people was a club or a group “where kids can go for a couple of hours and feel much better.”
Emilie, 15, from Old Catton, attends Sprowston Community Academy.
She said: “My goals as the representative for Norwich North is to, improve mental health services for young people, help to locally fight the climate crisis, and work closely with my local MPs.”
Emilie said hate crimes against minority groups and body confidence amongst teenagers were other issues that needed to be addressed.
The four MYPs were elected in March, but because of the pandemic the announcement of the results was delayed. Voting was carried out via text message in the week of March 23-27.
New MYPs are elected every two years, and the next election will be in 2022.
Councillor John Fisher, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said he wanted to congratulate the new MYPs, and hoped to support them in giving a voice for the county’s young people.
Mr Fisher said: “Norfolk Youth Parliament is a brilliant way for us to hear the voice of young people across the county, and for our work to be shaped by them.
“The Youth Parliament contributes its voice on key issues across the county and will give a voice to Norfolk’s young people.
“I’d like to extend my congratulations to our new MYPs, and to thanks all those who courageously stood as candidates this year. “It’s a great opportunity for them to help tackle issues that are important to them and our county, and we look forward to working with them.”
Anyone who wants to contact Norfolk Youth Parliament can email firstname.lastname@example.org.