Youth Mayors giving young people a voice

Derby College A level students Frederico Almeida and Sonja Sebastian are now half way through their year in office as Youth Mayor of Derby and Deputy Youth Mayor respectively and are relishing the opportunity to ensure young people in the city have a voice.

Frederico (17) came to the Joseph Wright A levels and Arts College earlier this year from Bemrose School.  He is studying Computer Science, English Combines, Physics and Core Maths with his sights set on a career in teaching or politics.

Meanwhile Sonja (18), a former pupil at Littleover School, is in her second year of A levels, studying Law, English Language and Business and is planning to study Law at university.

Both are members of Voices in Action – the city’s youth council for young people aged 11 to 19 years old who represent their school, support group or youth project and meeting in the council chamber once a month

They stood for election as Youth Mayor and Deputy Mayor earlier this year and were voted in by a number of schools and organisations across the city who are involved in ViA.

Frederico came to the UK from Portugal with his family three years ago and was encouraged to join ViA by a friend at Bemrose School.

He said: “I am thoroughly enjoying my year as Youth Mayor and the continued involvement with Voices in Action.

“We are involved in a number of meetings at the city council including the Executive Scrutiny Board and full council meetings as well as being part of consultations on a wide range of issues.

“Our role is to ensure that young people’s views are considered as part of major decisions in the city and it is great to be part of the democratic process and helping to make positive changes in the city.

“I was somewhat surprised to see just how seriously our views and input was taken at the council.  Not every city has a youth mayor so it shows just how committed Derby City Council is to listening to young people and how passionate councillors and officers are to see things improve in Derby.

 “We also have several civic duties such as visiting schools and attending events and it is great to meet so many different people from local communities.”

Sonja came to the UK in 2010 from Germany and opted to study at Derby College to further develop her independent study skills.

She continued: “This role has greatly developed our public speaking skills and I am very proud to be working with Frederico to ensure that young people’s voices are heard at a high level in the city.

“Being part of the decision making process has been fascinating which has ranged from budget consultations to looking at the Made in Derby programme to honour famous Derbians.

“Derby College has been very supportive of our role and we have taken this opportunity to increase awareness amongst staff and students here of the role of Voices in Action and the Youth Mayor and Deputy Mayor duties.”

Stacey Adams, Head of the Joseph Wright Centre, concluded: “We actively encourage all of our students to be positive citizens in their local communities and are extremely proud of Frederico and Sonja’s role in the city.

“I am sure that the skills and confidence that they have developed during this important year will hold them in good stead in their future careers.”