Cheshire East Council has made a plea for more children and young people to get involved in important issues affecting them and their community.
The call comes on International Youth Day, held every year on 12 August, a day which brings youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrating the voice of young people as partners in today’s global society.
Across Cheshire East, there are many opportunities for local children, young people and their families to be involved in shaping and delivering services from education, mental health support and climate change. Regular sessions are run both virtually and face to face for the following groups:
Cheshire East Youth Council is for any young person aged 11 plus to become involved in having their say in decision-making locally and regionally. The youth council gets involved in a range of activities; a recent example is the hosting of a mental health conference called Taboo;
Cheshire East SEND Youth Forum (also called Jigsaw) is a group that any child or young person with additional needs can attend from the age of 13. Recently the forum talked to young people, hearing their perspective and what it’s like to live with autism in their day to day lives; and
My VoiCE is Cheshire East’s Council for cared for children and care Leavers aged 11 plus. Recently this group has designed a training session for new foster carers.
Ali Stathers-Tracey, director of early help and prevention at Cheshire East Council, said: “Our ambition is for all children and young people to be active citizens who feel they have a voice on the important issues affecting them and their community.
“We are also keen to address any barriers preventing children and young people from participating, particularly those that are rarely heard.
“We know that Covid-19 has disproportionally affected young people in terms of their education, future careers and mental health. As we recover from this pandemic and shape our services to better meet the needs of our residents, it’s more important than ever to ensure that young people are heard alongside other community voices.
“I encourage any young people to come and meet us, make new friends, take part in fun activities including life skills and to work closely with professionals.”
Lily Cawley, a 20-year-old student from Macclesfield has been supporting the Cheshire East Council Youth Forum for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Lily said: “It’s so important that we listen to the views of children and young people with SEND, as these young people are going to grow up and live in Cheshire East.
“They need to feel they are somewhere that is safe and where they feel happy. They need to have good networks and relationships, particularly with professionals who are there to help them.
“They need to know how to contact these professionals, where they are and know they will be listened to. It’s very important.
“By coming along to the forum, young people can build up some really important relationships. They’ll get to know others that they might not otherwise come into contact with, and people that understand what they are going through.”