Young people make their voices heard

South Tyneside Young People's Parliament chairman Kieron Charlton, secretary Hannah Gray with Coun Joan Atkinson and Coun Alan Kerr
South Tyneside Young People's Parliament chairman Kieron Charlton, secretary Hannah Gray with Coun Joan Atkinson and Coun Alan Kerr

Young people in South Tyneside have been making their voices heard.

They have joined forces with councillors to tackle issues that affect them, and as a result, a number of initiatives have been introduced.

South Tyneside’s Young People’s Parliament has been discussing a wide range of topics over the year, with a focus on emotional wellbeing, healthy eating, staying active, drug and alcohol abuse and relationships.

Members of the Young People’s Parliament and representatives of secondary schools councils took part in workshops with professionals from various health bodies and completed action plans on ways to improve health within their own schools.

As a result, the council has now endorsed a nine-point action plan to improve mental health in young people, including education programmes in schools, reducing waiting times and increasing the availability of information.

Resources will also be given to schools to encourage them to provide sessions on stress, mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The council’s Sports Development Team has also made significant changes to a number of its schemes after consulting the young people.

They include increasing the age from which young people have to pay adult price for sport and leisure activities from16 to 18, and using ‘school champions’ to spread the word about new sports and leisure programmes.

The views of young people have also led the council to design a Z-card to advise students of their right to confidentiality when accessing services.

The Young People’s Parliament has also written a confidentiality statement which is now being used on the Council’s Change 4 Life website.

South Tyneside’s Change 4 Life programme is also now to be relaunched to support young people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

Playground buddy training will be rolled out from September as well a sport-based nurture club which will offer help to students with emotional issues to develop good coping strategies.

Councillor Alan Kerr, deputy leader with responsibility for Democratic Renewal, added: “It is incredibly important to engage with young people. They can bring a fresh perspective to issues and I’m always impressed by their ideas and enthusiasm.

“By working together, we are able to make effective changes to help improve the health and wellbeing of our young people.”

Kieron Charlton, chairman

of the Young People’s Parliament added: “We are very proud of our achievements and look forward to influencing more change on behalf of young people living in South Tyneside.”

The Young People’s Parliament has chosen child poverty as their theme for events when the group re-convenes in September.