How does it feel to be the new Youth Mayor for Derby?
It feels incredible. It was an achievement on the personal level but it’s also a commitment and a great responsibility. My peers trusted me to represent them and I want to live up and exceed their expectations. Since the announcement of my election I’ve been working with the former Youth Mayor Tiny and it was then that I’ve realized the real extension of this role, the range of subjects I’ll have to keep up with and what is expected of me. I’m very happy to learn as much as possible and participate in a constructive way, to serve Derby’s young people.
Tell us about the Voices in Action Youth Council and what it does?
We do monthly meetings, where a group of young people that volunteered to be representatives of their schools and peers, discuss an area of the topic for the year such as city centre, recycling & waste or new developments, giving our input to the topic that will be presented to the council or to the relevant board. In order to have a more educated opinion, we have the help of experts in specific areas that guide us throughout the process and put forward our thoughts.
We also have the opportunity of discussion with councillors who have expressed interest in being with us and getting our feedback. It is very rewarding when the proposals agreed by us are adopted by the council.
Have you always had an interest in politics?
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I have an “interest in politics”. I would rather say that I’m aware of what’s happening regarding major issues that concern the country and even more aware of the issues that concern Derby.
Why and how did you become involved with Voices in Action and why did you decide to run for Youth Mayor?
During my first year in school here, I was chosen to be Form Captain. The next year I applied and won the House Captain position: those were my first experiences in a more public position, but I felt that I wanted to go further and be more involved with my community – school environment alone wasn’t enough. I needed to take a big leap into society itself. Not being from here meant that I had a lot to learn, especially how things work, to keep up the pace.
Then a friend told me that he recently joined Voices in Action and explained, in general lines, what was done there. I had all the paperwork signed off as quickly as I could, to not miss that month’s meeting. At that meeting, I realised that there was such thing as a Youth Mayor. By coincidence I sat on the very chair Philip sat for his cabinet meetings. But it is no coincidence I sit there now.
For people who don’t know you, what can you tell them about yourself?
I’m of the enthusiastic type and always looking for opportunities to develop myself and others. Quite often I find myself working simultaneously on three or four different projects, admittedly some with antagonistic prospects, from the artistic to the scientific based ones.
My free time is usually spent online: learning on YouTube, fantasizing about the purchase of a ludicrously expensive product and generally poking around forums and bulletin boards.
I am also a keen performer in the arts of music (Piano), dance and theatre, just not a very good one.
What interests do you have?
I’m enthusiastic about new technologies, mobile phones, computers, programming in general and their everyday applications. I’m also interested in Engineering of all sorts and new ideas development. It fascinates me how multidisciplinary teams can work together to innovate.
What are you most looking forward to about being the Youth Mayor of Derby?
What I’m most looking forward to is to work with the Mayor, the scrutiny boards, council cabinets and councilors in general. With them is where I’ll learn the most and where I’ll have the opportunity to make my voice heard and ViA feedback to the decision makers.
What do you want to achieve as Youth Mayor?
My main goal is to represent in an effective manner the young people’s interests in the Council, boards and Cabinets.
I’m particularly interested in the children and young people scrutiny board because it contains in itself most of that concerns me in particular and the ViA council (though I am aware this will change to a committee).
It is of major importance to me that all children and young people have the best opportunities to grow and develop. It’s therefore paramount that the development and expectations gap between children in care and the ones within the family environment to be narrowed significantly. I will also be channeling attention to the initiatives to support school leavers, to enable them to face the workforce in a more confident manner.
Obviously there are other aspects like the city urban plans that raise concerns among the young people: after all, the changes implemented now are mainly for us to live with, we need to be one step ahead of the mainstream technologies and prepare our city for what is to come, even though we are not sure of what it is.
Why should other young people consider joining Voices in Action and running for Youth Mayor?
It is important to participate. Not only in a civic way but also in a democratic way as there is no such thing as an uninteresting subject, only uninterested people. We at voices in action try to present decision making in a more involved way with clear two-way communication and discussion with little formalities but the one of mutual respect.
When you find yourself totally engrossed and telling your parents and carers about how passionate you feel about the topic discussed that evening. That is when the urge to do more and the opportunity will present itself.
What advice would you give to someone who is maybe too nervous about joining Voices in Action?
We at voices in action have members from all different walks of life and we have built up a team of qualified, amazing people ready to help. Not to mention we allow multiple members from the same school to join, just for this reason. You can bring your friends. Though our existing members are very friendly, inviting and accommodating, as is the food.