A boy who wants to make Leeds a better place
Charles Austin interviews Hannah Lamplugh, head of the voice and influence team
Charles Austin is 14 years old, lives in Leeds and aims to become a journalist. He has been interviewing leaders in Leeds City Council to find out how they are working to make Leeds a better place.
Read his interview with Voice, Influence and Change Leeds Hannah Lamplugh here.
Charles: Please could you tell us a bit about your job?
Hannah: I am a Voice and Influence Lead – it means having a leadership role working for Leeds City Council, for Children’s Services. I am responsible for trying to ensure that children, young people and families can have a say in decisions that affect their lives. My job is to make article 12 of Children’s Rights happen!
This says, “Children have a right to an opinion in adult decisions which affect them. Their opinions should be taken seriously”
Children and young people need information on supporting rights – we try to make that information child friendly, and produce it well.
Part of my role is that you can tell me your views, and I will feed these back to the people who may be able to make things change.
What do you most like about it?
I really enjoy my job because I have a fantastic team who have lots of brilliant ideas, energy and enthusiasm. The best part is seeing the impact of some of our work on people’s lives, like increased confidence, better communication skills, improved aspirations about what they want to do with their lives.
Have the team been able to help things change in Leeds?
Yes – we run lots of groups in Leeds led by young people, such as the Leeds Youth Council, a youth parliament. We support them to happen, and these groups make really important decisions and decide lots of things about what happens in the city. We also give lots of advice and guidance to staff who work with children and young people on how they can seek their views and involve them in decision making.
What has been your greatest achievement with this team?
It’s when the young people we work with achieve i.e. achieving the Youth Awards. We are proud of all our work with young people. The STARs awards were two events we organised with young people this year, the events recognised and celebrated the achievements of looked after young people in Leeds
How did the Voice and Influence team get started?
A few of us worked around participation. A year ago we all came together to work as a team, so that we were not working separately any more. The team aims to help increase participation of children, young people and parents and carers.
How many young people are on the panel? Are there many people with disabilities?
We have lots of different groups, so we have around 300 young advisors age 8-19, and 50 members of the Youth council. I am not sure how many have identified themselves as having a disability, although 3members of the youth council have additional needs. The Youth council has a face book site. We have two new groups – A care leavers group and a Junior Safeguarding Board too.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you most like to see happening in Leeds in the next year for young people?
I would love to see young people really being able to be part of decision making in their local communities, and for the adults around them to really support them with this. Things are changing in the city as a whole, but this needs to happen more each area, not just the centre.
What were things like for you when you were a child?
I grew up in Scarborough with my family. I have good memories – my family were supportive. I had the beach to play on and countryside to visit.
Did you feel you would have liked some assistance to help you ?Were you ever bullied at school?
My family supported me. I was bullied at school at one point – it was verbal bullying. A strategy I used that really helped was I practised what I was going to say to him, and then I approached him and told him how it made me feel – which was hurt and angry. I did this at school when it was safe. I then told him what the consequences would be if he didn’t stop. He picked on me because he thought I was overweight. It stopped after that.
Hannah: What is your proudest moment Charles?
Charles: I did a presentation at an event called Over the Rainbow to over 100 people. I’d like to do this again and do more speeches and presentations.
Hannah: What are your aims for the future?
Charles: I am going to be a journalist/reporter! I want to interview interesting people in Leeds and help make short films to highlight different issues, like racism and see what we can do to make the city feel friendly for everyone. I want to do more photography, and learn more journalism skills. I am going to help the children’s society do some fundraising and raise money to help other disabled people. I would love to be on a poster!
To contact Hannah and the Voice and Influence team:
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