There are two main goals for the Youth Council in terms of Outreach and Engagement; improving our visibility and openness as a youth authority and increasing the extent of local engagement in the Make Your Mark ballots, which are issued September of every year.
The Youth Council’s current visibility and openness about all the work it does needs to improve – the standard set by other Youth Council in cities such as Manchester has shown that youth authorities must engage with the young people in their local area to be effective representatives. While the Youth Council already interacts with schools, we want to build up better and stronger links with the students themselves rather than just the schools that they attend. One of the main ways we want to achieve this is by drastically improving our online presence, as well as our physical presence within schools. Whilst the Youth Council has a website, it is unfortunately rarely updated. Our ambition with the website is to update it every week with published minutes of the meeting, so that young people of the city know what we are doing, and are able to contact us with their own contributions, for discussion or to hold us to account as their representatives. On a similar note, the Youth Council is also looking to establish this brand of consistent communication with young people on our various, already existing, social media platforms; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. As part of this, we are exploring our use of media such as videos and digital art to further our campaigns and spread awareness about what we are up to as a group. We believe our pursuit of ‘open government’ as a youth authority to be vital to our engagement with the young people that we represent.
Secondly, a key focus for Outreach and Engagement in the coming months will be the Make Your Mark Ballot, whereby we will be attempting to encourage large scale participation in local, young person’s democracy. We shall be campaigning for as many of the 63 schools in the city as possible to participate in the Make Your Mark vote – an annual vote held by the Youth Parliament that aims to outline which issues are most important to young people. Last year, 18 schools participated. We believe that the extent of engagement and participation was limited primarily because representatives from all the schools is also limited in the Youth Council, for reasons beyond our control. This year we want to utilise our new campaign strategies that we have been trialling more recently, as well as employing our new strategy for openness and engagement in what we do, and by working closely with the Council, and the York Schools Board to promote our message.