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COLUMN: 'Being part of the youth council has been hard work, but a lot of fun too'

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I'VE been a part of the youth council for nearly two years now and have thoroughly enjoyed my time. The Croydon youth council represents the views of young people aged 11-19 in Croydon to the borough's decision-makers.

When I first became a member of the council I thought it would be formal and hard work; instead it was fun – meeting new people, working on projects and learning something new from each meeting.

In the first year I was a part of the 'Staying Safe' group and we campaigned on raising awareness about neglect and abuse. We ran a successful workshop, gave out wristbands to promote campaign, and I had an article published by Fixers.org.uk – a charity that helps young people to make a difference.

In the feedback from the workshop the vast majority of the young people who took part said they would now know how to recognise a home in trouble, that they understand the services that are out there, the different forms that abuse takes, and where to go for help.

Now I'm in my second year of being a member of youth council and along with the others who have stayed on I have been promoted to being a mentor to the new recruits.

Our priorities are chosen by young people filling out questionnaires. This year anti-bullying and crime and safety came out top. I am a member of the anti-bullying group and we will be running workshops in schools to explore and discuss how bullying affects young people. A leaflet will also be produced and distributed around schools.

This is an important issue because thousands of people every year have their lives seriously damaged by the actions of bullies. By getting young people to challenge those who cause these problems we hope to make a difference.

Next year's election campaign for the Croydon Youth Parliament and recruitment for the new Youth Council starts in September, when young people can begin to submit their application forms. The deadline is January 9, 2015 and voting takes place in February.

I'd recommend to anyone who wants to be part of a great team which can change people's lives for the better to think about putting their name forward. It's a decision you won't regret.

COLUMN: 'Being part of the youth council has been hard work, but a lot of fun too'


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