Giving a voice to Islington’s youth
Islington youth council was created in 2011 to give young people a voice. SJS News met Hiba Warsame, the current youth mayor. She told us about priorities for the youth in the borough
Youth mayor Hiba Warsame was elected by youth councillors on the 18th of February along with her deputy Shanaz Shaw. The 12 youth councillors were elected last November by approximately 5000 young people who live or study in the borough.
The creation of a youth council goes back to 2011 as a “direct result of implementation of the elected Labour Party manifesto commitment to creating a youth council in Islington,” says Raj Jalota, Commissioning and Engagement Officer at Islington Council.
The 16-year-old Hiba is motivated to represent the young people of Islington and will also attend local events in her role. She says: “I think I am capable of pushing forward our priorities and making sure we can get our stuff done fast and make noticeable changes.”
Together with the youth councillors, she came up with four priorities for their two years in office: health and well-being, youth provision, youth employment, and education and career planning. Youth provision involves introducing environments in local venues where young people can meet and participate in activities together.
Regarding youth employment, Hiba explains their strategy as “going to different youth clubs and talk to people, set up workshops for them to see higher education plans like apprenticeships and work experience”.
To raise awareness about their plans and bring the youth together, the councillors will also talk in schools and youth clubs. They may hold sessions in different hubs in Islington “to know exactly what young people’s views are and to know what they want”. For instance, Hiba will go to City and Islington College and Highbury Fields School, where she studies in 12th grade herself.
The youth councillors are also keen on using social media to reach the youth. Hiba explained that they will set up a dedicated hashtag on Twitter that the local young community can use to ask questions or make suggestions. They are also active on Facebook.
Before taking her role as youth mayor, Hiba and the other councillors went through a “very intense” 12 week-long induction. This was aimed at “providing the councillors with the skills and knowledge required to perform their role effectively,” says Mr Jalota. It helped them understand their roles and they also learned key facts and statistics about Islington. Mr Jalota adds that they were taught how to use social media safely and how to work with council officers as well as developing public speaking skills.
As a youth councillor and young mayor, Hiba may have up to five or six hours a week of youth council and mayoral commitments to undertake outside school hours.
She recalls one of the activities they had to do during the induction: “We went out on the street and we learned campaign planning. So they pushed us out there and then, when we came back, they gave us a lesson on how to make your priorities, know what you are doing before you go out.”