A new Youth Council, helping to give a stronger voice to children and young people in the Royal Borough, met for the first time at the Town Hall yesterday evening – electing 17-year-old Robert Jansen-Spence as their first chairperson.
Following a borough-wide call for participants, more than 30 young people applied to be representatives, with the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead working with children’s services partner Achieving for Children to establish the new Youth Council.
This dedicated forum supports young people to get involved in their communities, playing an active role in shaping and informing local decisions as the first port of call for councillors and local businesses wanting to hear the voice of local young people.
Youth Councillors will also have the opportunity to discuss and address important issues that matter to young residents and affect their lives, as well as work on positive projects and campaigns to make changes for the better.
After some initial informal sessions this summer, Youth Councillors held their first proper meeting in the Council Chamber on Monday, 20 September to elect their chairperson, discuss their new constitution and agree a letter to schools that are not represented currently on the Youth Council.
Chairperson Robert Jansen-Spence, of The Windsor Boys’ School, said: “It’s a real honour to be elected as the first chairperson. We had a fantastic first meeting as a Youth Council and it has been really exciting to meet with the others in the Council Chamber and make a start.
“Young people are really interested in what happens in our community. The Youth Council will give us a stronger voice and enable us to get more involved in decisions that will affect us and champion issues we care about. We already have a number of ideas we’re looking at.
“We are still open to welcoming new members from schools and young groups across the borough, so if you’re aged between 14 and 19 and either live, or go to school, within the borough, then please apply through the website.”
Councillor Andrew Johnson, leader of the (adult) council, and Councillor Stuart Carroll, (adult) cabinet member for children’s services, attended the first Youth Council meeting to meet the young people and observe the discussion.
Councillor Carroll said: “The formation of the Youth Council is a big moment and it’s clear from the number of applications and quality of discussion that we have some really engaged young people across the Royal Borough, who want to make a positive difference in their communities.
“As a Cabinet, we’re frequently making decisions that affect the future, either in the shorter or longer terms, and so we’re naturally keen to hear the thoughts of our young residents about their experiences and perspectives.
“The Youth Council is a fantastic platform, empowering young people to highlight, discuss and collaborate around issues that matter to them, whether local or national, and play a meaningful role in shaping and informing local decision-making.”
Youth Councillors are asked to commit to serving a minimum of one year and participate in at least two meetings per month. For more information and the application form, please visit https://rbwm.afcinfo.org.uk/pages/community-information/information-and-advice/support-and-advice-for-families/youth-council
Alternatively, email Elaine Keating, youth engagement officer, on firstname.lastname@example.org