Youth councillors on Euro mission

Date published: 28 July 2015

OLDHAM youth councillors took a trip to Germany to share tips on how to get more young people involved in politics.

Youth mayor Saskia Edwards and Mariam Waseem, a youth councillor and Trustee for the British Youth Council, attended a symposium in Bremen.

The event was part of a European Union-funded programme called Inter-cultural Dimension for European Active Citizenship (IdeaC).

The programme aims to look what can be done to address the low turn-out rate in European elections in some countries where voting is not compulsory.

Among the main causes are the lack of interest and knowledge in the democratic workings of the EU, the mistrust towards European institutions and the lack of sense of belonging to Europe.

Oldham Council and Oldham Youth Council were selected as partners in the programme and have already attended events in Sicily and Budapest.

At the Bremen event, the Oldham delegates were asked to give a presentation on how the youth council is engaging young people in democratic processes at local, regional and national levels.

The presentation also explored the possible reasons for low voter turnout in the European elections and suggested possible solutions to ensuring young people are more effectively engaged in all levels of democratic life.

Saskia said: “It was an amazing opportunity to share the great work we do here in Oldham and the UK and it was fantastic to see how interested the other European partners were in the work we are doing. I was proud to demonstrate how Oldham has embedded a culture of youth engagement in our local democracy, as well as learning about the experiences of other young people across the EU.

“We have made some strong connections with partners in Europe and are already looking at how we can work together in the future to further develop young people’s democratic engagement.”

Council leader Jim McMahon said: “Over the years, Oldham Youth Council has developed into an effective and successful body and it’s great its work is being recognised internationally.

“It is vital our young people get involved in democracy so their views and ideas can be heard so that they can do their bit in helping to improve the borough for future generations.”

The final stage of the programme will take place in Poland in February, 2016.