Putting an end to knife crime is among the aims Calderdale’s young people are working towards in 2019.
Calderdale Youth Council representatives said they may only make up around a quarter of the borough’s population but were a hundred per cent its future, Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board heard.
The two young representatives reported on the work of the youth council and Youth Parliament, including both organisations’ set up and reach, as well as outlining their main campaigns based on their own priorities from the starting point that children and young people should take a lead themselves on matters which concerned them.
They told members too many young people’s lives were lost to knife crime and Government needed to help end the knife crime epidemic.
West Yorkshire Police figures in 2018-19 show that although knife crime is not widespread in Calderdale – eight of 185 knife-related offences under Home Office criteria have happened here – there are times when it has happened.
Calderdale has seen four offences of people having an article with a blade or point in a public place, two offences of possession of other offensive weapons on school premises, one of possession of offensive weapon without lawful authority or reasonable excuse and one of threatening a person with a blade or sharply pointed article in a public place.
It should be noted the figures do not include robbery or other violent offences where a weapon was used as part of that offence.
The youth council, through its network across schools and youth organisations, saw Calderdale’s young people put it top of their list of concerns when consulted, with 729 votes, and will work to raise awareness of the danger of carrying weapons in conjunction with schools, Calderdale College, police and the council’s youth service.
Second on the list of young people’s concerns was the issue of equal pay (566 votes), it being pointed out to councillors that at 16 even if they were undergoing the same training as older people young people’s pay was 56 per cent less than their colleagues – it was age discrimination and did not recognise the skills young people possessed.
The youth council aims to work with other groups regionally to campaign on the issue and kink up with the GMB union’s “wages not based on ages” campaign, partnership work with GMB youth members.
Their third major concerns (with 524 votes) was tackling homelessness with the aim youth council members and their peers will both work with local service providers to understand the issue and fundraise for local charities which help homeless people.
Young people will also be working on other campaigns including Transport Fare’s Fair, with goals including half price fares for those in education all year round, mental health awareness, LGBTQ+ issues to ensure inclusivity of all young people, promoting work experience in particular the benefit to employers, environmental issues including specifics of a South Pennines Regional Park, clean-up campaigns and support for the Eco Bricks For Africa charity.
To maximise the number of young people taking part in society the youth council is establishing a SAFE#cyp project to allow them to become actively involved in issues without attending meetings.
And other regional link-ups include the Young People’s Northern Assembly, which will lend weight to the Northern Powerhouse and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North lobbying to bring economic investment and benefits north and ensure young people’s needs are included.