Chamber hosts Youth Forum debate

Contributed by editor on Nov 05, 2004 - 10:22 PM

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<IMG height=278 alt="" hspace=5 src="images/youth-forum-1.jpg" width=209 align=left>The newly-formed Shepway Youth Forum will be consulted when Shepway Council discusses policies affecting young people.

The agreement was unanimously supported following a meeting between members of the forum and 14 local councillors when the two groups met in the council chamber recently.

The Councillors to Young People event was held as part of Local Democracy Week (18 – 24 October). It was the first major event for the forum, which is planning an official launch party in the New Year.

Tamasin Jarrett, Shepway Council’s Youth Engagement Officer who organised the meeting, said the aim had been to try and develop an understanding between councillors and young people, to look at ways of securing more positive publicity for young people and the raise the profile of the forum.

“We started by playing a game of human bingo – which gave everyone the chance to get to know each other. We then went o­n to talk about local democracy and press relations and followed this up with a very lively question and answer session. The meeting ended with an agreement that councillors and young people should meet regularly - perhaps four times a year - and that the forum should be consulted when the council is formulating policies that affect young people.â€?

Tamasin said o­ne of the key debates between the two sides had been about young people having nothing to do.

<IMG height=238 alt="" src="images/youth-forum-2.jpg" width=318 align=right>“Councillors asked why was there a perception that young people were always complaining of having nothing to do and being bored when there were more opportunities and facilities now than there had ever been,� she said.

“Young people responded that, despite the existence of skateboard parks and multi-cinema complexes, these were often expensive to use and, particularly in the case of cinemas, often located out of town and difficult and costly to reach by public transport.

“There was also the misconception that young people “hung aroundâ€? in groups o­n street corners because they had nothing better to do. In fact, the young people said they have always socialised in this way because it was what they wanted to do - although there seemed to be less tolerance from older people now.

“Members of the forum said facilities for young people did not need to be elaborate but simply offer a safe place to meet and socialise with friends. Their main question centred o­n what the council was doing to provide these facilities.â€?