Wokingham Borough’s new Youth Council, coordinated by Wokingham Borough Council, launched last week (Tuesday 6 July), with a welcome from former Prime Minister and MP for Maidenhead the Rt Hon. Theresa May and Matt Rodda, MP for Reading East, covering Woodley.
The Youth Council is made up of students from across the borough, with each secondary school invited to put forward two representatives. Young people have also been asked to come forward to act as champions for issues of particular concern for young people. Headed up by Jonathan Dodd, Emmbrook School student and Youth MP for Wokingham, the Youth Council will provide a platform for young people in the borough to debate issues which are important to them and to challenge and provide feedback to the council on its strategies and plans.
The members of the Youth Council were congratulated on their participation, with Theresa May telling them that they were pioneers and able to give voices to the voiceless, adding: “Go to it, persevere, be enthusiastic and you will make a difference.”
Theresa May and Matt Rodda gave the young people insights into their own journeys to becoming MPs, explaining that making a difference to individuals was at the heart of what they do.
Cllr Graham Howe, executive member for children’s services said: “It was a great inaugural meeting of the Youth Council. I’m really pleased that so many young people wanted to join and have their voices heard and listened to.
“The breadth of topics and the enthusiasm, knowledge and maturity that they showed in the first meeting was incredible. I am very interested to see what the Youth Council has in store and the impact that it will have on the future of the borough.”
The young people had the opportunity to ask questions. A student from Bohunt School asked Theresa May what legacy she hoped to have left as Prime Minister. Theresa May said: “We legislated for a net zero emissions target for 2050, the first major economy in the world to do so. The future of the planet is hugely important, and that target being set will cause action.”
The remainder of the meeting was an opportunity for the new Youth Council members to get to know each other by introducing the topic that they felt most passionate about. There were wide ranging topics, including gender equality, young people’s mental health, climate change, LGBTQ+ representation, equality and diversity, digital exclusion and bullying.
The next meeting of the Youth Council will take place on 20th September and will focus on how young people can help tackle climate change.
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