The votes have been cast for Warwickshire’s Youth Elections - and young political minds are now are now ready to take on the county’s big issues including religion, mental health and education.
A team of four newly-elected representatives have been voted on to the Youth Parliament, alongside an all-new youth council ready to take their seats for the coming year.
After meeting at Shire Hall for the results at the polls, successful candidates heard the biggest issues of the day as voted for by their peers.
A total of 18 candidates applied for Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) posts and after more than 42 per cent of teenagers aged from 13 to 19 came out to have a say at the polls, the chosen candidates will now start work in the voluntary roles.
The four elected Youth MPs will be joined by deputies, Alex Gibson from Warwick, Megan Cox and Charlotte Jackson from Nuneaton and Bedworth and Curtis Kay from North Warwickshire.
The day also saw elections for VOX - the county’s youth council which represents young people and their views.
Welcoming the newest members, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the Conservative leader of Warwickshire County Council, said it was vital to get people of all ages engaged in politics.
Cllr Seccombe said: “We feel it is vitally important that our youth get the chance to be involved in the democratic process and have the chance to put their own views across.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see so many people take part and we wish to thank all of those who took part in the elections this year.
“It is always refreshing to see so many young people get involved in politics.”
The 12 VOX candidates have already tackled the issues that matter after a vote by 15,149 young people identified seven key areas.
Members will now discuss a host of policy ideas including the living wage, mental health issues, racism and religious discrimination.
The young people voting also called for more to be done within education to teach life skills, and that career guidance should be more prevalent in schools.
The group also believed that more services should be aimed at young people and called for the voting age to be lowered to 16 to allow them to be more involved in decision making across the UK.
Former elected deputy and MYP, Natalie Payne, spoke of the importance of the groups for all young people.
She said: “It has been an honour to serve as an MYP for Warwickshire for the past year. I can honestly say that I have grown so much as a person and so much from being a member.
“Since I was elected last year, I’ve gone from being known as ‘the quiet one’ who was scared to speak in front of a class of 20, to travelling around the country, debating with hundreds of others.
“Being a MYP has turned me into a confident leader and it is an opportunity I’ll always be glad I took.”
For more on the youth services, visit WarwickshireVoice or find them on Twitter via #v4youth
Who was elected?
RUGBY: James Andrews, Nathan Taylor and Karampreet Gill
WARWICK DISTRICT: Ben Knight and Ethan Liddell
SOUTH WARWICKSHIRE: Ben Steed, Adriana Murphy and Abigail Shelley
NORTH WARWICKSHIRE: Jazz Pearcy
NUNEATON AND BEDWORTH: Salyha Mughal, Hassan Khan and Penny-Lea Buckland
WARWICK DISTRICT: Jonny Rutherfird (Myton School) and Ajay Bawa (Campion School)
NORTH WARWICKSHIRE: Beth Fox (QE School)
NUNEATON AND BEDWORTH: Lauren Fletcher (Higham Lane School)