Hackney Youth Parliament candidates debate at hustings

Aspiring young politicians – one aged just 11 - took part in a hustings event at Stoke Newington town hall on Tuesday evening, ahead of elections to the Hackney Youth Parliament (HYP).

They each gave two-minute speeches and answered questions on their visions for the borough. In total, 37 candidates are vying for votes in four areas: north east Hackney, Homerton, Stoke Newington, and Shoreditch.

HYP member and UK Youth Parliament representative Matthew Oyetunji, 18, chaired the discussions.

He said: “I think there were some amazing speeches from the young ones, but everyone put in the effort and showed they really want to do this. I liked the audience’s questions and everyone seemed engaged.”

Dylan Ferner-Rose, 11, from Haggerston school, was the youngest candidate to take part and is standing in Shoreditch. He said: “I think it was really fantastic, and I think it’s good that youth in Hackney have voices and that they can speak up.

“People say, ‘You’re so young’, and they don’t really take me seriously, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter.”

The borough’s young politicians have acted as ambassadors during the Olympics, launched an initiative to help their peers cope with exam stress, and also sit on Hackney Council’s Children’s Services scrutiny committee.

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The new candidates have written manifestos outlining what more they hope to achieve, which can be viewed at www.younghackney.org.

Among the topics discussed on Tuesday were ways to improve local youth clubs and – perhaps the most popular – the perceived negative view of Hackney youngsters which candidates feel is common in London.

Stoke Newington candidate Mariam Haji, 17, from Petchey Academy, said:

“Everyone was on the same page when we were talking about negative stereotypes, but we were different in some areas.”

There were lively debates around sex education and anti-smoking campaigns, with the audience making sure candidates were kept on their toes.

Javani Brown, 15, added: “I found it good that people were reacting to things we were saying, and making us think.”

Voting begins today, Wednesday October 10, in schools, colleges, and youth clubs, and is open until Tuesday October 16.

Results will be announced at Hackney town hall at 5pm the following day.

Young people who want to get involved with youth politics in Hackney can attend a fortnightly HYP meeting by emailing hypsecretary@googlemail.com, and make their views and ideas known by contacting hyp4you@googlemail.com.