Young people aged 11- 16 from Monmouthshire’s county youth forum Engage2Change gave up a day of their well-earned half term to hear from councillors and share the importance of involvement in democracy. The session held at County Hall on Monday 20th February provided an opportunity for young people to question, listen, challenge and find out more about the political process and local parties. Breaghanna McMahon (16), Chair of Engage2Change led the day and encouraged young people to partake fully.
Interim Chief Officer for Children and Young People, Will McLean provided an informative and much welcomed overview of democracy and the history of politics while county councillors Peter Fox, Roger Harris, Debbie Blakebrough and Phil Hobson talked about their parties and what each one stood for. Following the session, young people were encouraged to ask questions and challenge councillors about what they had heard.
Some of the issues that emerged were: Votes at 16, how LGBT has an impact on political parties and Brexit. Youngest participant Anna Langdon aged 11 posed the question ‘Is first past the post fair?’ creating a lively discussion among the panel.
Workshops examined how schools, the local authority and community groups can inspire more young people to vote. Excellent ideas provided a valuable insight into how democracy and the democratic process can become more appealing to young people.
A key message was that of taking responsibility and how young people can make a difference now and in the future by becoming involved in their communities. Cllr. Roger Harris, chairman of the Monmouthshire Labour Group said: “Its’ down to you! You are our future, you can make a difference.” This was echoed by all present.
Council Leader Peter Fox said: “The day has been a fantastic opportunity for young people to be involved in finding out more about democracy. I am a firm believer in enabling young people to have their voices heard. Today has been led entirely by the youth forum and is just one of the many ways young people are able to have their voices heard”.
For more information about Engage2Change contact Jade Atkins: Charlie-JadeAtkins@monmouthshire.gov.uk