TWO of Tameside’s young representatives rubbed shoulders with political leaders as they debated key issues affecting the North.
Greater Manchester Youth Combined Authority (GMYCA) members Jacob Hirst and Emily Sykes were invited to take part in the first Convention of the North by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
They are members of Tameside Youth Council, supported by Tameside Council’s Youth Service, which elected them to the GMYCA roles.
The event took place at the BALTIC Centre, Gateshead, on September 6, and saw political and business leaders join representatives from unions, community groups and other organisations with the intention of creating a powerful new voice for the North.
It aims to champion and challenge: promoting all that’s best about the North while ensuring the Government works with it to create a stronger, more prosperous UK. The Convention will meet regularly and speak for the North on important national and regional issues.
Those attending included the leaders of Newcastle, Leeds, Northumberland, Durham, Kirklees, Chester, Manchester and Liverpool councils.
Delegates had their say on transport needs, Brexit, education and skills and devolution.
Jacob and Emily were asked to be part of a panel alongside Andy Burnham, who they thanked for inviting them, saying it was a great insight.
Jacob (15), a Year 11 pupil at Stalybridge’s West Hill School, said: “When we arrived we sat on the first panel, where Andy Burnham announced our arrival and made everybody aware of who we are and why we were there.
“When the first panel disbanded I sat in on two breakout sessions: skills and Brexit. It was very interesting to see what politicians in the room were doing surrounding these issues and how this affects young people.
“After lunch we sat in on two more panels and put questions to the panel in order to promote youth voice.”
Emily (17), a Clarendon College student from Dukinfield, said: “I attended to help get the youth voice heard on issues that affect us to make sure young people get a say and a good deal, as we’re here to help the future.
“The key issues for me are health, because waiting lists are too long, transport, as it’s a lot of money for a bus pass to get to college and school every day, and getting equipped for life.”
Councillor Oliver Ryan, Tameside Council’s Executive Member for Children and Families, said: “Jacob and Emily are great representatives for Tameside’s young people and this was a wonderful opportunity for them to meet and mix with political, business and community leaders and ensure that Tameside and our young people’s voices are heard on such important issues.”
Tameside Youth Council gives young people the chance to influence local decision makers and meets fortnightly at Copley Youth Base. For more information visit www.tameside.gov.uk/Policy/Youth-Council. Schools wanting their young people involved can contact Melissa Hopwood on 0161 342 3799.