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City leaders unite to find member of youth parliament for Portsmouth

Published: 20th January 2021 11:32

The search is on to find a voice to represent Portsmouth's young people on a national stage.

Portsmouth City Council in partnership with Unloc is launching a campaign to find the city's next member of youth parliament to work with local leaders on key issues as well being part of meetings with youth MPs from across the country.

City MPs Stephen Morgan and Penny Mordaunt have joined forces to take part in a recruitment event for the role along with Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Rob Wood and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, Cllr Suzy Horton. Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson will start the digital event with a short introduction welcoming attendees.

With COVID-19 impacting the lives of children across the city, the campaign aims to recruit a member of youth parliament who will work alongside council leaders to ensure the voices of young people are heard at a time when they're facing challenges they may never have encountered before.

Councillor Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education welcomed the campaign:

"More so than ever before, it is really important we have the voices of every individual heard. The role will help change outcomes for children in the city for the better, during a time of uncertainty for many.

"The role involves working with council members to strengthen essential services that young people access. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone interested in public life locally to really make a difference."

 Laura Spurgeon, a 14 year old student at Admiral Lord Nelson School, who will be joining the information event and is Portsmouth's current member of youth parliament reflected on the past year:

“I was shocked to learn that I’d won, and then excited and thankful to be given the opportunity to speak for young people in Portsmouth. Many are passionate about the future but feel our views are discarded and not heard. I have spoken to a range of students about their views on mental health, voting at 16 and LGBTQ+ education.”

UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11-18 year olds to use their elected voice to bring about social change through meaningful representation and campaigning. All members of youth parliament meet nationally twice a year at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting and UK Youth Parliament House of Commons Sitting.

Alison Jeffery, director of children, families and education at Portsmouth City Council said:

"Listening to the views of young people is crucial when providing services for them. The role of member of youth parliament will help develop what we offer, ensuring the needs of 11 - 17 year olds are met."

Any 11 - 17 year olds interested in the role can join an information session through Zoom on Friday 22 January from 5pm to 6pm.

Participants can hear from Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Rob Wood, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, Cllr Suzy Horton and Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon- Jackson. Those who attend will learn more about the process and will be able to ask questions about the role.

To attend the digital event, young people can register online by searching for 'Portsmouth member of youth parliament Q&A' on Eventbrite.

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