First ever Wiltshire Youth Council launched

Light is shed on the views of the next generation in the county, as forty-one young people take their place in the first-ever Wiltshire Youth Council.

The move comes after a successful election campaign that saw 89 candidates from 21 schools and the local community get involved.

A total of 4,972 votes were cast by young people across the county, and the elections ran from January 31 to February 4 as young people voted online through their school to select their preferred candidate.

Wiltshire Council said young councilors will be able to do things like meet with council leaders to have a say in local decisions and work with regional councils to ensure funding for youth projects has the good impact on them and their peers.

The aim is also to get them to inspect services to ensure that they represent the best interests of young people.

One youngster who has been selected for Gaunt School in Trowbridge is 11-year-old Dennis.

He said: “There are so many issues in the community and I wanted to do something about them instead of waiting for someone else to do something.

“I didn’t expect to win the election because I don’t know many people my age who are going to the election, so I was surprised but happy to have succeeded.”

Their responsibilities will also include communicating with their peers so that the views of other young people are properly represented.

Lily, 13, who is also from Gaunt School in Trowbridge, said she wanted to stand to campaign on a number of issues, including equality and environmental issues.

She said: “I am very happy to have been selected. I look forward to helping people in my new role.

Wiltshire Council has also created the opportunity for Wiltshire Youth Advisors to shadow leaders for any particular point of interest they may have.

There have recently been concerns in Wiltshire that there aren’t enough places where young people can feel involved, particularly in rural areas, with one campaigner fearing the pandemic has left them disconnected – learn more here.

But Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services hopes the initiative will help to better reflect the views of young people and make their voices heard.

She said: “Congratulations to all who participated in this process and congratulations to those who were successfully nominated.

“Having your voice to champion causes that are important to you and your peers is key to our work and I look forward to working with you in the future.”