Stress, bullying and drugs were top of the agenda when young people met in Epping for the Epping Forest District Youth Council Conference.
Almost 90 delegates aged 11 to 17 packed the council chamber for a welcome by District Council Chairman Tony Boyce and a video message by constituency MP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Eleanor Laing.
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Local Democracy Week
The Youth Conference aims to engage young people in local politics and provide an opportunity for them to voice their concerns and make councillors more accessible. It was timed to coincide with Local Democracy Week. It is a great opportunity for councils to engage with people across the UK and encouraged more young people to take part in civic life.
Local Democracy Week runs from 13 to 19 October with a variety of initiatives aimed at encouraging people to take up the right to vote, get involved in local government and have a say in their council. The Epping Forest Youth Conference gives pupils representing the secondary schools in the district a voice and the opportunity to question those people holding the local reins of power including the Leader of Epping Forest District Council and the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.
Local schools participating
- Braeside School (Buckhurst Hill)
- Chigwell School (Chigwell)
- Davenant Foundation School (Loughton)
- Debden Park High School (Loughton)
- Epping Forest College (Loughton)
- Epping St John’s (Epping)
- King Harold Academy (Waltham Abbey)
- Roding Valley High School (Loughton)
- West Hatch High School (Chigwell)
Getting to grips with the issues
Delegates split into morning and afternoon workshop sessions. Epping Forest Youth Council brought skilled experts in their fields in to facilitate each group.
- Alcohol – Terry Martin, AlcoHELP
- Bullying – Royston John, RDJ Training
- Stress – Alexia Doherty, Epping Forest District Council
- Drugs – Trevor Griffiths, Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Service
- Volunteering – Patrick Arnold, Epping Forest District Council
- Skills and Jobs – Ruth Warner, Department for Work and Pensions
After a good lunch in the Members’ Room at Epping Forest District Council, the highlight of the afternoon was Question Time with a panel of some of the most influential people in the district.
Question Time panel
Gareth Clement – Chief Executive Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Service, Jacqui Foile – Chief Officer Voluntary Action Epping Forest, Inspector Andy Fusher – Essex Police, Councillor Helen Kane – Cabinet Member for Leisure and Community Services Epping Forest District Council, Donna Martin – Drugs and Alcohol Partnership Trainer EYPDAS The Children’s Society, Michael O’Brien – Head of Commissioning Education and Lifelong Learning Essex County, Council Chris Seward – (Chairman) Chair of the Secondary Schools Group and Head Teacher Davenant Foundation School, Councillor Chris Whitbread – Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Lindsay Whitehouse – Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex.