On Friday 30 November more than 100 young people from Sunderland, Washington, Houghton and Hetton joined together to debate issues that matter to them.
The annual State of the City debate, organised by Sunderland Youth Council, saw children and young people from the city’s schools, Sunderland College and Sunderland People First, gather to discuss five key issues.
The debate follows the national Make Your Mark ballot, which this year saw 1.1 million young people vote on youth issues. Of that number 5,685 votes came from Sunderland youngsters.
Following the ballot members of Youth Parliament aged 11-18 from all regions took part in an annual debate at the House of Commons to discuss the top five issues chosen by the ballot.
The top five issues voted for by Sunderland young people were:
1. Mental health services for young people
2. Putting an end to knife crime
4. Equal pay or young people doing the same work as adults in the same job
5. Changes to the curriculum to include topics like finance, sex and relationship education and politics.
In the city debate young people expressed their views with confidence and voted to make
Mental Heath the priority Sunderland Youth Council topic for the year ahead.
Sunderland Youth Council (SYC), which works with Together for Children (TfC), the organisation that provides children’s services on behalf of the City Council, is made up of 15 young people aged 11 to 18.
SYC Member, Liam Ritchie, 17, from Fulwell, said: “Going to the House of Commons was an unforgettable experience. And bringing a debate to Sunderland is a great opportunity to give further attention to issues in front of city decision makers.”
Jill Colbert, TfC Chief Executive, said: “Vital to the work of TfC, is giving a voice to young people. SYC should be credited for leading such a passionate debate and I’m confident that through partnership and collaboration, agencies will work together to tackle these issues.”
Councillor Louise Farthing, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “SYC is a tremendous group that regularly meets with TfC, councillors, MPs and other city leaders to affect change.
“This year’s was another fantastic debate and all the young people who voted and took part should be proud of their efforts.”
For more information on Youth Parliament please visit www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk and for details of Sunderland Youth Council please go to www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/children-and-young-people/youthgroups