Youths are constantly being attacked by the media. Accused of being ‘good for nothing’ members of society, our lives supposedly consist of intimidating the public, eating, sleeping and spending hours on end on Facebook (or Twitter). As we all know, many youths do not fit this unfair stereotype and I have had the opportunity to meet some youths in Dartford who are proving this stereotype wrong. These youths have taken an active role in the community, by becoming members of Dartford Youth Council.

The main aim of Dartford Youth Council (DYC) is to ‘provide a means of two way communication between Dartford Borough Council and the youths who live, work and go to school in the Dartford Borough’. Each Youth Councillor is the voice of the organisation they represent, whether it is their school or scout group.  Ideas and concerns of the youths are presented in monthly meetings with Dartford Borough Council and Kent County Council youth workers.

This year Dartford Youth Council has attracted many new members alongside their existing members. I had the opportunity to interview Alice who has been a member of Dartford Youth Council for three years.

How did you get to know about DYC?

I heard about DYC from the school, they were looking for another member as their current members were about to leave so they put me forward. After my name was suggested to the Council, I attended the October meeting and filled in the membership forms and since then I have been a member!

Why did you want to become a member of DYC?

I wanted to be a member because I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get my voice heard about what I thought was important in the town and surrounding areas. As well as this, I thought I would be a good representative of the school as I find it easy to talk to people and gain their opinions of matters in the area.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of DYC?

My favourite thing about being a member of DYC is that I get to work with people of different ages and from different types of school, rather than just school council where everyone is from the same school. It allows me to make friends with people who I would not have had the opportunity to talk to if I had not gone to DYC.

Why do you think so many people have been attracted to becoming members of DYC this year?

I think that there has been a big turn out this year due to the enthusiasm from the existing members, in that they were happy to encourage new members to join the council.

What would your advice be to anyone who is thinking of joining their local youth council?

My advice to future youth council members would be that you should always be enthusiastic about being heard and not shy to put forward your opinions of matters concerning your area because it is always good to show that you have initiative and leadership qualities.

What can people do in their school if they want to become a youth councillor?

Having a leadership role in your school is a good opportunity, as it will enable your school to see that you would be suited to the role of a youth councillor. I was a member of the school council in my year group and am currently the school leader of Year 7 as a part of the student leadership team. These roles within school are what I believe makes me a good choice to be a representative of my school within the youth council.

It was wonderful to interview a youth who is so enthusiastic and passionate about being a voice in her community. Alice represents many youths around Dartford and even the whole of Kent, who care about their local community and want to make a difference.

Through talking to Alice I am encouraged to not only be a face, but a voice in my community and I encourage all youths to do the same.