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Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning]: 9th September 2013

 

Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Progress Report on the Development of a Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor for the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To report to Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee on progress to develop the Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor and the involvement of young people and Vale Youth Forum members and Trustees in these developments thus far.

Recommendation

1.             Members note the recent progress and developments of a constituted Youth Cabinet and the development of an election process for a Youth Mayor position.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             The establishment of a Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor will provide a voice for young people in the Vale by which their views and ideas can be better considered in Council decision making.

Background

2.             In a report on 21st January 2013 Members were informed that young people had communicated with elected Members through the Youth Service Scrutiny Review of April 2012 that they felt under-represented, and wanted a mechanism in place which would give them the opportunity to challenge and communicate with the Council and Cabinet on decisions that affect them.  In the same report Members were given information on the results of the Local Democracy Week (LDW) consultation in October 2012 on the development of a Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor.  They were also made aware of how young people from the Vale Youth Forum (VYF) had been involved in the process.  (Appendix 1 and 2).

3.             The young people who are members of VYF also co-ordinated their own consultation event on the same format as LDW with young people from youth groups.  This ensured a youth friendly and young person proactive part in the consultation. The VYF were given feedback independently on the results of LDW in one of their meetings so they had an appraisal of young people's opinions post consultation.  They confirmed that the recommendations given in the report of 21st January accurately reflected the views of young people and provided a way forward. Since January 2013 the young people of the Forum and the Vale Youth Forum Co-ordinator have been asked to be part of a Steering Group to ensure developments have a direct input from young people and that Trustees of the VYF receive regular feedback on progress.  (Appendix 3).  The group is made up of young people, elected Members, Democratic Services, VYF and members of the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service. The development has been discussed at the Children and Young People's Partnership (CYPP) meeting held in October 2012.  The CYPP has a representative from the Vale Council for Voluntary Services (VCVS) as part of its board.

4.             The Principal Youth Officer has attended the VYF AGM and been appointed to the Board of Trustees.  This has ensured Trustees and younger members of VYF have an informed view of developments and that communication is clear and transparent between the Council and the VYF.  The Board of Trustees includes Jane Hutt AM, the Leader of the Council and the Children and Young People's Partnership Co-ordinator.  The VYF have been consulted on a Constitution and a Memorandum of Understanding and no negative feedback has been received. (Appendix 4a and b)

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             The proposed model (Appendix 1) is to base the development of the Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor around the existing Vale Youth Forum.  The Vale Youth Forum (VYF) is made up of young representatives aged 11-25 from across the Vale of Glamorgan and is a registered charity which works with young people who either live, work or attend an educational establishment in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The VYF works in partnership with the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services who employ the Co-ordinator, and the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service, who accommodate the Co-ordinator.  Officers have engaged with young people, designed a structure and model based on their view points and have moved the project on with young people engaged at almost every point.

6.             The consultation results from Local Democracy Week (Appendix 2) determined that young people from youth clubs, school council members, community and special interest groups and independent young people who do not belong to a youth organisation should be able to be elected onto the Vale Youth Forum and the Youth Cabinet.  These elections will be held in Local Democracy Week commencing 14th October 2013.  Secondary schools, youth groups, community and special interest groups and independent young people have been made aware of the process and will be given election packs to assist them with the process in early September.  The Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service will also be on hand to assist if needed.  The elections will initially be for young people to sit on the VYF.  Members of the VYF will be trained in Council procedures and processes and they will select members from their ranks to be elected to form the Youth Cabinet.  They will then be responsible for representing the interests of all young people in the Vale.  It is proposed that the Vale Youth Cabinet will meet regularly with Council officers, Councillors and Cabinet Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council to put forward young people's issues.

7.             The position of the Youth Mayor will be nominated from the Vale Youth Forum via the same process.  The consultation results have also highlighted suggestions for the duties of the Youth Mayor and have determined that the Youth Mayor should initially serve for one year and that there should be a deputy Youth Mayor in place for the same term of office.

8.             Young people have also suggested that the main communication method should be Facebook.  The Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service has established a Facebook page and is also making its Swoosh website accessible to young people for this purpose.  This method will be used by young people to get in touch with VYF and the Youth Mayor, to be informed about the work of VYF and the Youth Mayor, and to enable the VYF and the Youth Mayor to gather the views of the young people across the Vale.  The process to get to this point has fully engaged with young people.  As laid out in the report, in the coming months young people will become more involved in Council activities and have their own representatives who will feed back their views and opinions directly to the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.             The current Vale Youth Forum Co-ordinator role is funded by the Vale Voluntary Action Scheme until March 2014.  Although the VYF, a registered charity, has the ability to apply to external funders for project and additional work, it is understood from the VYF trustees that external funders will consider the Co-ordinator's post as a statutory duty in the future.  This jeopardises future external funding for the core work of the Vale Youth Forum.

10.        As a result, the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service has appointed a young person who has some experience in participation to work alongside the VYF Co-ordinator to develop and run the Youth Cabinet, support the Youth Mayor position and support the VYF past the 2014 deadline.  The Vale Youth Forum has applied for external funding and is hopeful of success.  However, if funding searches are unsuccessful then the Council may need to take on the support and management of the role which may create cost pressures.  The estimated cost of the post is £22,000.  The young apprentice will have access to continuous professional development opportunities leading to a recognised qualification in Youth Work, and develop key transferable skills for future employment. They will also support the Youth Mayor ensuring they have transport to events and moral support. At the time of writing the YF Co-ordinator has resigned from the role to take up a new position and the VYF Board of Trustees will need to make a decision about the leadership and management of the VYF.  The Trustees are meeting on the 2nd September to discuss.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.        There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.        On 1st May 2012 the Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure came into effect in Wales.  The Measure places a duty with Welsh Ministers to have due regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention), and makes a number of other provisions relating to children's rights in Wales.  Between May 2012 and April 2014 this duty will apply when they are making decisions about new policy or changing existing policies.  From the beginning of May 2014 it will apply when they are exercising any of their functions.  The Measure places a duty on Welsh Ministers to take appropriate steps to promote knowledge and understanding of the Convention amongst the public, including children.  The Convention applies to children under 18.  However the Measure requires Welsh Ministers to consider whether any of its provisions should be applied to young people in the 18 to 24 age range.  Welsh Ministers will have to produce a Children's Scheme setting out arrangements they have made or will be making in order to carry out the duty of having regard to the Convention.  The Children's Scheme will have to include a statement about the Minister's proposals to consult on this and Ministers will have to publish a report about their conclusions.  They will then be in a position to make orders enabling the provisions in the Measure to be applied to young people.  Before making such orders Welsh Ministers would have to publish and consult on a draft order.

13.        On 1st May 2012 the Children and Young Persons Rights Measure came into effect in Wales.  The Measure places a duty upon the Welsh Ministers to have due regard (balanced consideration of the UNCRC and other factors) to the substantive rights and obligations within the UNCRC and its optional Protocols.  In effect this makes the UNCRC part of the decision-making framework or process of Ministers.  The Measure aims to embed the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into law on behalf of Welsh children and young people.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.        There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        Participation is a fundamental right which is set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and was adopted by the UK government in 1991.  The principle of participation as contained in Article 12 is closely linked to freedom of expression and the right to information.  The Welsh Government is committed to driving forward the principles of Article 12 across Wales thus ensuring young people aged 0-25 have opportunities to contribute to and have their voices heard in decision-making issues which impact their lives.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        The content of this report is directly linked with the Corporate Plan 2013-2017 Community Leadership outcomes CL1 and CL4, and Children and Young People outcomes CYP10 and CYP11.  The Core Aim 5 agenda of the Council's Community Strategy states that "All children and young people are listened to, treated with respect and have their race and cultural identity recognised".  We also considered Priority Outcome 5 of the Community Strategy; "Children and young people in the Vale are well informed and supported to access a broad range of quality services that enable them to take full advantage of the life opportunities available in their local communities and beyond".

17.        Furthermore the detail of the progress is covered by Learning and Skills Service Plan Outcome 1 and Objective 1.

Policy Framework and Budget

18.        This is a matter for Executive decision.  The Welsh Government has pledged its priority to ensure the voices of young people are heard and supports Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.        In total 198 young people took part in consultation workshops.  School councils from all mainstream secondary schools, all three special schools and the G2E project (Guidance to Engagement - alternative education programme within the Vale Youth Service) took part.  Additionally, the Vale Youth Forum organised an evening event for youth organisations and youth provisions (voluntary and statutory) from across the Vale, and Vale People First also conducted a workshop with their Vale Speak Up group.  Young people from the VYF have been part of the Steering group and have discussed the matter at their own member meetings.  There has also been an opportunity for young people to comment online via an internet based survey.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.        Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

Children Act 2004 - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/31/contents

 

Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/mwa/2011/4/contents

 

National Youth Service Strategy for Wales - http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/national-youth-strategy-wales?lang=en

 

Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/mwa/2011/2/contents

 

Shared Planning for Better Outcomes -http://wales.gov.uk/topics/childrenyoungpeople/publications/sharedplanning/;jsessionid=AFDE1AFE17EEE17C0265E7909AD53C62?lang=en

 

Shared Purpose, Shared Delivery -http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/publicationsevents/publications/sharedpurpdel/?lang=en

 

Contact Officer

Andy Borsden, Principal Youth Officer

 

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Ve Van de Voorde, Youth Participation Officer

Mark Davies, Children & Young People's Partnership Manager

Rob Jones, Consultation Policy Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer