“But will you actually do any of this?”
It was the final question of the evening from a boy called Jack – and it packed quite a punch.
For several hours young people had been working in groups at the Annual Conversation 2022 event to come up with six ‘pledges’ for them and the Council to act on together.
Each related to a key issue or idea that they, as ‘ambassadors’, had identified following extensive engagement with other children and young people across the county over several weeks.
Aimed at Cornwall Council members and senior officers in an almost-packed Council chamber at New County Hall on Wednesday, Jack’s question came after all the groups had outlined their pledges:
- Balance the gender and age inequality towards accessing open public and community spaces, facilities and services for all young people, children and young adults.
- Promote and educate young people, teachers and parents/carers by providing information and resources about jobs and skills relevant for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, now and in the future.
- Work with young people to make their voices heard and become partners in policy-making through communication and action – ‘The Bridge’.
- Create an environment where a Wellbeing Plan (‘Listen, Hear, Act’) can help prompt early intervention and support for young people.
- The creation of space targeted towards and co-designed by young people that centralises and facilitates learning about jobs, skills and how to advance in Cornwall.
- Fund and create an app or website through which children and young people can be heard, involved and taken seriously ‘because we are the future of Cornwall’.
Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, cabinet member for children and families, was quick to offer Jack the reassurance that he and his peers were looking for.
“I have to say I’ve been absolutely blown away by everyone in this room,” she said. “Are we going to do this? I can promise you that I will do my very best to make sure this happens. This is about delivering for you and that’s what we intend to do.
“You are an important and integral part of the future of Cornwall – in fact you are the future.”
The first Annual Conversation took place last year, following on from significant passion and engagement shown by children and young people for the G7 which came to Cornwall in June 2021.
The aim is to give children and young people the opportunity to use their right to be heard and to be involved and taken seriously in matters that affect them both now as children and as they approach adulthood.
The Annual Conversation enables them to share their ideas and views and be heard by the county’s key decision-makers.
This year’s event saw 28 ambassadors, aged between nine and 23, meet with councillors and officers to talk about solutions to the issues they face in their lives.
As Emily, the chair of Cornwall Youth Council, said in her speech to the chamber at the start of the event, everyone should have their voices heard and work together to make Cornwall a brilliant place to be a child and grow up.
“I hope this Annual Conversation is about building bridges to bring us all closer together,” she said.
Cllr Linda Taylor, leader of Cornwall Council, vowed to ensure children and young people are never forgotten when planning for the future.
“Young people I’ve spoken to often feel their voices are ignored by decision-makers but we are determined to change that and make sure everyone gets their voices heard in this new Cornwall,” she said at the event.
Throughout the evening, the Y7 News Team – staffed entirely by young people under the mentorship of Kernow Education Arts Partnership (KEAP) and former BBC journalists – roamed the building on the hunt for interviewees.
Their interviews will be shared on the Y7 News Team's Facebook page.
Several ambassadors, who are also members of Cornwall’s Youth Council, gave an interview to local media, further helping their voices to be heard across Cornwall.
For more information visit the Annual Conversation page on the Council's website.