'We need to listen' - how young people are getting more involved in shaping Hartlepool for the better
Praise has been given to the increase in young people becoming involved in organisations such as the youth council in the town.
Councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council Children’s Services Committee urged the young people must be listened to following a report looking at different activities they carried out over the past year.
The report stated six young people had been recruited to the youth council this year, after previous struggles to attract members, and plans are in place for it to continue to grow.
Danielle Swainston, council assistant director for children and families services, said: “We did have a period of time where we were struggling in terms of trying to recruit members to the youth council.
“There was quite a lot of work done over the last nine months to try and recruit the council which has worked well.”
The council meets bi-weekly and work in the past year has included attending conventions in Stockton and Newcastle to discuss knife crime and taking part in interview panels for positions in the department on the council.
There was also a ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot run by the British Youth Council which gave young people across the country a say on what is debated by members of Youth Parliament.
A total of 2,726 ballots were returned across all Hartlepool schools which identified mental health, knife crime education/reduction and reducing homelessness as the top priorities.
Council bosses also praised the Children in Care Council, which meets fortnightly and is made up of eight members age 11-18 aiming to ensure the voice of children and young people in care are heard.
They also noted there is a young inspectors group looking to review services and activities and ensure they are accessible to young people.
Coun Brenda Harrison said: “These groups allow young people to have a voice and that is absolutely essential, and we need to listen to their voices.”
Coun John Lauderdale said: “It doesn’t seem all that long ago we were down to one or two enthusiasts and it was difficult to see if there was going to be a future.
“I’m pleased there has been a response particularly at the younger end because there could be a good period of involvement over a long period of time if all goes well.”
Council bosses also said work was ongoing to attract more children from different areas across the town to the organisations.