Young Hackney politicians ready to represent their peers

Hackney Youth Parliament

Hackney Youth Parliament - Credit: Archant

More than 7,000 youngsters cast their vote in this year’s Hackney Youth Parliament elections in a record turnout.

After months of hard work, writing manifestos, speaking at hustings and campaigning at schools and youth clubs, 24 candidates, aged 11 to 19, were elected to represent their peers for the next two years.

The results were announced at Forest Road Young Hackney Centre on Wednesday last week (October 15).

Newly elected member and Clapton Girls’ School pupil, Beth Foster-Ogg, 17, said: “I was inspired to get involved by a girl at my school who was a member. I’m quite politically engaged and she told me it was a good way to influence and make changes.

“I’m keen to work on issues I care about like housing, educating people about mental health and FGM. I also want to make young people more politically engaged.”

Luke Odunaike, 16, who attends Young Hackney hub The Edge, said: “I’m really excited to have been elected. I want to encourage young people to have the right mindset, to make sure they follow the right paths and access all the opportunities available to them.”

The parliament will meet weekly and will soon start work on its first campaign.

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Members follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jermain Jackman, winner of BBC’s The Voice, and dubbed the ‘singing politician’, as well as Ife Grillo, who represents Hackney in the national Youth Parliament and is currently working with the EU.

Anntoinette Bramble, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “I’m delighted that so many people used their vote to make their voice heard in this important election, and I’m proud to have such politically engaged young people in Hackney.

“For those who’ve been elected, the hard work – and the fun – starts now. I’m looking forward to working with them over the next two years and finding out what matters to them. I’m sure they’ll achieve a great deal, and I’d encourage all young people to find out who represents them and to get in touch with them if they have any concerns or ideas about how to improve life for young people in Hackney.”

While votes were being counted, young people took part in the annual Mayor’s Q&A with Hackney chiefs to mark Local Democracy Week, to discuss issues affecting them, chaired by Hackney’s assistant director of children’s services, Sheila Durr. The panel included Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe and Ms Bramble as well as outgoing member of Hackney Youth Parliament Kennedy Nwosu.

There was also a democracy fair where the youngsters learned more about social engagement projects.

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