Headlines: April 15th, 2010

Newcastle City Council is working with a regional charity to set up what is thought to be the country’s first youth council independent of the local authority. The new body, created with the support of Children North East, will complement the already existing Elder’s Council, which is run by and for older people to represent their views and concerns to the authority and other agencies.

The new body will be made up of young people aged between 13 and 19 who will be elected by their peers to work with local decision makers. Voting will take place later this month. A steering group of young people has been formed and is with Children North East on arrangements for the new council.

Work on setting up the Youth Council began after members of the local authority last year supported a motion calling for one to be established to “engage effectively with a wide and diverse range of young people.” John Collings, Executive Director of Children’s Services for the City Council said it was important that the new body was completely independent from the authority so that it was not only credible to young people but also genuinely empowered them to hold the council to account. “It would appear we are the first local authority in the country to establish a Youth Council this way,” he said.

Jeremy Cripps, Chief Executive of Children North East said it welcomed the chance to work with the council and added: “It seems only right that the region’s children’s charity should be working with the region’s capital city to ensure that the voice of young people is heard and makes a difference in Newcastle.”