Release date: 29 November 2018
By Josh Patterson, 14, Youth Cabinet Member for Chichester and Arun West
Youth Cabinet members joined senior councillors on Friday 23 November 2018 to take a peek behind the scenes of West Sussex County Council to see how it works and to also join in.
Youth Cabinet members range in ages from 11-18 and are elected by their peers to represent all areas of West Sussex (likely to be where they live) and meet up once or twice a month.
Eight members took the chance to shadow senior cabinet members, county council staff and an MP as part of the national Takeover Challenge day, which saw hundreds of young people step into the shoes of a wide range of adult jobs.
The day before, Tom Van Den Berg, 16, one of the two Youth Cabinet members for Bognor Regis and Felpham, and Heather Smith, 13, (Southbourne), met up with Jeremy Hunt, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, and Pieter Montyn, Member for The Witterings. They joined a Performance and Finance Select Committee meeting and listened to some of the issues that were raised, including a budget update and key decisions taken in the Forward Plan.
Tom said: “I was really thankful to have the opportunity to sit around the table. I have a passion for politics and hope for it to become more than just a hobby.”
George Bowron, 15, (Crawley) and Will Nyss, 15, (Lancing) spent the day with Paul Marshall, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, finding out about his role. Mr Marshall said: “It was a pleasure to have George and Will join me for the day and together we learned about the crucial roles social workers carry out for young people and their families in West Sussex. It’s brilliant to see young people interested and engaging in politics in this way.”
Harley Collins, 14, (Chichester and West Arun), spent the morning with Deborah Urquhart, Cabinet Member for Environment, at Westhampnett Solar Farm and the Drayton depot with West Sussex Highways staff.
Harley said: “Learning about how West Sussex County Council’s highways department manages its tasks with its ground teams was fascinating. I also learnt renewable energy is the future and learning about solar panels was amazing!”
Harley then spent the rest of the day with the communications team drafting an article for Connections, the local residents’ magazine and also learnt a about data handling from the Insights team.
Josh Patterson, 14, the other MYC for Bognor and Felpham, spent the day with the communications team. Josh learnt how to use software to take over the various West Sussex Your Space social media platforms for young people, and posted pictures of what was going on during the day. He also learnt how to write a press release.
Josh said: “I was really grateful to have the opportunity to come and see how communications work and to write my own press release. It was really fun.”
Harley and Josh ended their day by meeting Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council and asked her many questions about her job.
Louise Goldsmith said: “I was delighted to have Josh and Harley spend part of the day with me and my team for an ‘ask the leader’ session. We spoke about various topics from school funding to youth consultations and a bit about Brexit and I was really impressed with both of them.”
Spencer Hildrew, 15, (Southbourne) and Dylan Collier, 16, (Chichester) also spent the day shadowing Gillian Keegan, Member of Parliament for Chichester, in London.
Mrs Keegan said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome Spencer and Dylan from the West Sussex Youth Cabinet to the House of Commons. We are in the midst of the Brexit negotiations and it is an interesting time to be in politics and I’m hoping Spencer and Dylan enjoyed their day.
“We have had many young people from across the Chichester District join us for work experience and shadowing days and we always look forward to welcoming them.”
Find out more about the West Sussex Youth Cabinet.