Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Stockton Youth Assembly Minutes

Tuesday, 18th November, 2014
5.00 p.m.
Community Zone, North Shore Academy, Talbot Street, Stockton-on-Tees
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Jessica Belch (Chair), Mitchell Agar, Liam Hough, Sarah Hurst, Ethan Jackson-McGlade,Cllr Mrs Ann McCoy, Joshua Petrie, Kathryn Wake
Jane Humphreys, Mark Freeman, Karen Dear, Shirley Stenburge (CESC), Laurayne Featherstone (Resources), Michelle Jones, Judith Trainer (LD)
In Attendance:
Steve Rose (Catalyst)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr David Harrington, Imogen Kench, Ciaran Poole.
Item Description Decision
AGREED that the minutes of the meeting held on 16th September 2014 be agreed as a true record.
AGREED that a task and finish group would be held to discuss how to engage with children and young people.
AGREED that the information be noted.
AGREED that the update be noted.
AGREED that the proposal for MYP elections be agreed.
AGREED that the report be noted.
AGREED that the report be noted.
AGREED that the Forward Plan be noted.


There were no Declarations of Interest declared.
Members of the SYA considered the minutes of the meeting held on 16th September 2014.
The Director of Children, Education, and Social Care informed SYA Members about a new Partnership for Stockton Borough. The Children and Young People Partnership had been formed to bring together the different organisations and agencies that were involved with children and young people, with the aim of improving their opportunities. These organisations included the Council, Health organisations, schools, and volunteer organisations amongst others. The work of the partnership would be focussed on those that were most vulnerable, and had several key priorities, as follows:

* Ensure children and young people are safe
* Ensure effective pre-natal and early years support for children and families
* Improve educational performance of all children and young people across the Borough
* Support young people to make a successful transition into adulthood
* Improve outcomes for children and young people in care and care leavers
* Enable children and young people to lead healthier lives

The Partnership planned to discuss issues that affected young people such as domestic violence, substance misuse, young carers, youth offending service etc. and they wanted to engage with children and young people to make sure their voices were heard. It was noted that the Borough-wide Debate, held in September 2013, had proved very useful in bringing together young people, Council officers and partner organisation, and the Partnership planned to hold a similar event to consult with the SYA in February 2015.

The SYA was asked what was the best way the Partnership could engage with children and young people. SYA members discussed the use of social media to engage, and in particular suggested holding timed debates on Twitter using a hashtag (#). It was also suggested that topics and issues could be discussed at youth clubs.

A Task and Finish Group meeting would be arranged in January to discuss further ways in which the Partnership could engage with children and young people and would include a representative from Catalyst. This would report in to the Children and Young People Partnership in February.
Steve Rose, from Catalyst, attended the meeting to discuss the volunteering strategy that was being developed to support volunteers, community groups, and organisation. Catalyst represented and supported over 200 voluntary and community organisations within Stockton-on-Tees Borough, and was aware of at least 3500 volunteers within the borough. As part of developing the strategy, Catalyst planned to consult with different groups and organisations that it could affect, and the SYA was the first to be consulted.

The SYA discussed reasons why young people volunteered, and felt that these included taking part in Duke of Edinburgh and to add to their CV or University applications.

The SYA asked whether research had been carried out regarding trends in volunteering and Steve Rose confirmed that research had been done which found that organisations that were successful in attracting volunteers were those that had specific roles to fill and provided job descriptions. It was also noted that personal links to a community, e.g. church or resident group, or personal interests were important in attracting volunteers. However it was more difficult to find volunteering opportunities for people who did not have those personal links/interests and it was important to ensure that they were matched to the right volunteering role.

Steve Rose explained that while some volunteering groups had a national structure and high profiles, at a local level the group might had have only a small number of people to run the activities. This would cause operational problems if one person was unable to volunteer for a period of time. Similarly, some volunteer groups needed support with specific roles e.g. a treasurer or secretary.

It was noted that volunteering roles varied and some people would not recognise that they were a volunteer, e.g. a football coach or someone selling raffle tickets. Volunteering could be broken down in to small roles, and/or specific timeframe e.g. volunteering at a festival.

The SYA discussed how young people could find out about volunteering opportunities, and it was noted that young people did not always know who to ask. A website with the list of vacancies was suggested; however this would need to be promoted to ensure that it was used. It was also suggested that schools could promote volunteering, and that it would be useful for youth workers to have information on volunteering opportunities so that they could also promote this.
The SYA received an update on the progress of Stockton Library Services from the Libraries & Heritage Service Manager. The SYA members were informed that the Library Service loaned 800,000 - 900,000 items per year.

Egglescliffe School Library had been brought in to the public library system, adding all the books and publications in Egglescliffe Library to the public library's catalogue and IT systems.

The Library Service held lots of events each year, including regular reading, family history, and craft groups. In addition the Service had held:
*Crossing the Tees, a literacy festival with Middlesbrough Council's Library Service. This included published authors visiting Stockton to discuss their work and perform readings.
*Summer Reading Challenge which challenged children and young people to read six books over the summer period
*Digital War Memorial as part of the World War One Commemorations.

E-books and E-Audio were available from the Service on different formats, with the exception of Kindle due to their connection with Amazon. Library members also had access to the online websites Ancestry and 19th Century British Newspapers.

Thornaby and Roseworth Libraries had reopened within Children Centres. This had not only benefited in the shared cost of facilities, but also promoting reading and literacy to children as early as possible. Norton library had also reopened after refurbishment, and Billingham library refurbishment was almost complete. Plans for refurbishing Yarm library and relocating Ingleby Barwick library were in place.

The SYA discussed the transition of readers from the children selection of books to the adult selection. It was noted that the Teen range was small and outdated. Publishing Houses often gave an age range for their books, however those who worked in libraries sometimes judged the appropriate age range to be slightly different, and also used feedback from readers to determine appropriate age range.
SYA members received a report that presented proposals for the election of the MYP and DMYP in February 2015.

As part of the new model for Youth Participation in Stockton, formal elections for the Borough's MYP and deputy were held in February 2013. All schools and colleges across the Borough were invited to nominate a candidate and vote for a MYP, and nine schools had taken part. These were

• Conyers
• Egglescliffe
• Ian Ramsey
• Northfield
• North Shore
• Red House
• St Patricks
• Bede Sixth Form
• Stockton Sixth Form

The process mirrored adult elections as far as possible, using the First Past the Post voting system. A poster with candidate information/ manifestos/ photographs was circulated to participating schools for display in all tutor groups and local school counts were held in each of the schools with support from Democratic Services staff. In total 5,604 votes were cast representing a turn-out of 72.69% from the participating schools. Jessica Belch (Conyers School) was elected as MYP with Ciaran Poole (Northfield School), the runner-up, elected as DMYP for a two year term.

The next MYP election was due to take place in February 2015. A letter had been sent to all Secondary Schools and sixth form colleges to raise awareness of the election in September 2014, and key dates were:
*The Notice of the Election would be published on 5 January 2015
*Young people would be invited to stand as a candidate 5 - 23 January 2015.
*Statement and photograph of candidates would be publicised from 2 February 2015
*Polling would take place 9 - 12 February 2015
*Count would take place 13 February 2015

The election process would take into account the feedback from schools following 2013 election. This included:

• More lead-in/ awareness raising prior to the elections via assemblies (perhaps including a short video featuring the candidates)
• More information in advance on the role of the MYP and the commitment involved for prospective candidates
• More advice/ activities for candidates on preparing for the elections and organizing their campaigns
• Support from the schools Senior Management Teams was essential
• Use of a different/weighted voting system to ensure bigger schools did not receive an unfair advantage

It was therefore proposed that for the 2015 elections awareness of the election was raised via school assemblies prior to Christmas and continues during the January nominations period. It was also the plan to produce a DVD with a short video address from each candidate which could be shown in schools, subject to appropriate permissions being obtained.

It was also proposed that the Supplementary Vote (SV) system be used to address concerns regarding larger schools having an unfair advantage. This was the system used for Mayoral Elections and for the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. Under SV, there were two columns on the ballot paper - one for voters to mark their first choice and one in which to mark a second choice. All the first choices would then be counted, and if a candidate had a majority, they were elected. If no candidate received a majority, the top two candidates continued to a second round and all other candidates were eliminated. The second-choice votes of everyone whose first choice had been eliminated were then counted. Any votes for the remaining candidates would be added to their first-round totals. Whichever candidate had the most votes after these second-preferences had been allocated would be declared the winner.

Operating a more complex voting system would require supervision from electoral services staff and therefore a central count on the Friday of voting week was recommended; this arrangement would also be a better use of resources particularly if more schools choose to take part in 2015. Candidates and a limited number of representatives from each school would be invited to attend the count mirroring the count arrangements for local elections.

There was discussion about the age limit for the MYP and the Electoral Team Leader undertook to check the current position.
A report which presented an update on Make Your Mark campaign was noted. Members of SYA attended the count of the Make Your Mark ballot papers on 6th October 2014, and 2934 ballot papers were completed in Stockton borough. These were added to the North East regions ballots, which totalled 48,202.

Regionally 'Living wage', ‘work experience' and ‘maths and English exam resits' had the most votes. Nationally the ‘votes at 16', ‘fund our youth services, don't cut them', and ‘a curriculum to prepare us for life' categories had the most votes.

Stockton's MYP and SYA Chair, Jessica Belch, was nominated as a debate lead for the UKYP House of Commons Sitting. Due to the devolved nature of the UK democracy and to ensure relevant representation of the issues from all nations, the five topics that were debated at the UKYP House of Commons sitting on 14th November were:
*everyone should be paid at least a living wage of 7.65 (8.80 in London) per hour
*bring back exam resits in Maths and English
*work experience
*votes at 16
*improve mental health services

These topics would now be the national campaigns for this year.
Activities that had taken place since the last SYA meeting were summarised.

On 11th October members of the SYA attended the British Youth Council Convention 2 at Tyne Metropolitan College, Wallsend. Attendees had the opportunity to talk about issues that affected them including a young person from North Tyneside who presented a World War 1 commemoration reflection which was then read at the UKYP House of Commons sitting. There were also a number of workshops for the young people to choose two to take part in, including ‘arty facts', ‘young minds', ‘celebrating the positives' and ‘Ofsted - listening to learners', and a presentation from Ofsted.
Consideration was given to the Forward Plan, which outlined the items to be discussed at the next formal and informal meetings.

It was noted that the next BYC Convention would take place on 6 December, and consent forms were required by 25 November.

The Youth Voice Development Leadership Programme, which was a weekend event, would be held in Kent next year. Places needed to be reserved by December 2014, and names of attendees by 13 February. It was requested that those current SYA member who wished to continue to sit on the SYA's next term of office, and who would like to attend the Leadership Programme, contact Youth Direction as soon as possible.

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