Epping Forest Youth Council staged another successful biannual Youth Conference.
Let’s Talk About Money
On Friday 17 November more than 125 delegates and teachers from 8 secondary schools and Coopersale Hall Prep school, attended the Epping Forest Youth Conference.
This year’s theme was Let’s Talk About Money, linking to the Youth Council’s cost of living project. Chairman of the Council, Darshan Sunger opened the conference followed by members of the Youth Council chairing different segments of the day.
Guest speakers from the day included Sarah Davidson from Plane Saver talking about managing your money, and Jacob Foreman from Epping Forest Foodbank who spoke about helping with money. Ed Flack, from WizeUp, followed by hosting a quiz around financial and employability skills.
Pre-loved uniform projects
Mark Mundy from The Children’s Society spoke of their school uniform campaign, to work with the government to ensure that uniform costs are reasonable. Leighton Bishop, a year 12 pupil from Birchwood school in Hertfordshire is the founder of Bishops Fundamental Costs Charity, spoke about their pre-loved uniform project.
Youth Councillors also shared their successes with setting up pre-loved uniform projects in their schools.
King Harold Academy founded a second-hand uniform shop to address the pressing issue of students missing school due to uniform related challenges. The shop is run on donations from the local community.
Debden Park High School has run a successful pre-loved uniform shop for the last 20 years. Run by the Parent Teacher Association, parents are invited to 3 uniform sales every year. The pre-loved uniform is recycled by students who have either left or grown out of their uniform.
A debate around providing free public transport for all children, up to the age of 25 in full time education or from a low-income household split attendees and resulted in 49% for and 51% against.
Schools were asked to make a pledge to something they would change or continue to do, outside of the conference, to help their local communities with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Braeside School and Epping St Johns School – Pledge to continue to support Epping Forest Foodbank, helping to take away the worry of people having to choose between eating and heating.
- Chigwell School – Pledge to continue contributing to local charities and will use student groups to come up with new eco-friendly ideas that will help the wider community.
- Roding Valley High School and Davenant Foundation School – Pledge to look into setting up a pre-loved uniform shop, making uniforms more accessible to families who are struggling financially.
- Coopersale Hall – Pledge to encourage more students and parents to recycle their uniforms to the pre-loved uniform shop at the school.
- King Harold Academy – Pledge to fundraise to upgrade the canteen items and reduce food prices.
- The Ongar Academy – Pledge to establish a school council to deliver meaningful change across the school and community.
- West Hatch High School – Pledge to continue working towards their eco badge, including reducing electricity to save energy.
Young people engaging and using their voices
Portfolio Holder for Community Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Smruti Patel said:
This year’s youth council project and conference was a great opportunity for young people to learn about the impact of the cost of living, money management and the importance of budgeting, debt guidance and young people’s wellbeing.
It was great to see so many students from schools across the district engaging and voicing their views on such an important subject.
The Ongar Academy said:
We all came away feeling hugely inspired through seeing what can be achieved. I was immensely proud of the students, and I really look forward to seeing what they can achieve.
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