Sunderland young people debate the state of the city

Councillor Louise Farthing and Simon Marshall with members of Sunderland Youth Parliament.

Councillor Louise Farthing and Simon Marshall with members of Sunderland Youth Parliament.

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Young people from across Sunderland gathered to debate the state of the city.

Children from every school on Wearside were invited to the council chamber to decide what issue Sunderland Youth Parliament should focus on in the year ahead.

I was impressed by the passion, commitment and political eloquence of all those who took part

Louise Farthing

The agenda for the annual Young People’s State of the City Debate, along with running order, list of speakers and invitations to attendees and guests, which included cabinet members and senior council officials, were all arranged by members of the Sunderland Youth Parliament themselves with support from Sunderland City Council’s Children’s Services.

Delegates debated five issues on the agenda decided by 8,002 young people, and these were a curriculum to prepare us children for life, votes at 16, tackling racism and religious discrimination, mental health and stopping cuts that affect the NHS.

​After all five issues were debated by speakers in the council chamber, those present voted for what they thought had emerged as the most important issue to be addressed by Sunderland Youth Parliament over the coming months in session.

The votes were counted and the issue that Sunderland Youth Parliament will focus on this year will be ‘A curriculum to prepare us for life’.

Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Coun Louise Farthing, said: “I was impressed by the passion, commitment and political eloquence of all those who took part.

“More than 100 young people from across the city attended, and there was a high standard of debate among all the delegates.

“The annual Young People’s State of the City Debate demonstrates how the younger generation can influence political debate in our city, and help shape council policy as a result to provide the type of services they think can meet their needs.”

Sunderland’s Youth Parliament meet every week to provide young people aged 11-18 with the chance to debate issues affecting their lives.

Chairman of the Sunderland Youth Parliament and Sunderland Member of the Youth Parliament, Thomas Crawford, 17, from Hastings Hill said: “Being able to debate in a venue like the council chamber allows us to directly share our concerns with the decision makers, and demonstrates they are listening to our views.”

His fellow Sunderland MYP, Rachel Krajovska, 17, from Grangetown, said: “I think it’s vital for young people in Sunderland to have this opportunity to experience being part of the political process, and understand what is achievable working together.”