Today’s guest blog is from Charlotte Williams, the Chair of Leeds Youth Council, who recently took part in a high level session around children’s rights, organised by the European Commission. Charlotte represented Leeds and young people at the event alongside a French Secretary of State, a Swedish MEP, the Deputy Director of UNICEF and the Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake.
Here is what Charlotte has to say about her incredible experience:
Hi! My name’s Charlotte Williams and I have spent the last seven years of my (relatively short) life working in youth voice. First, it was as the Leeds Children’s Mayor, then Leeds Youth Council, the UK Youth Parliament, and now back to the Leeds Youth Council. It’s a passion of mine and one I got to explore further at the recent EU Summit on the Rights of the Child.
Prior to the event, I was incredibly nervous – it’s not every day you sit with MEPs and State Secretaries as a seventeen-year-old girl in your kitchen. Of course, many of my anxieties were put to rest by a call from the panel moderator and then a chat with my youth worker and a few other city council members. It was very reassuring to know that they weren’t expecting the world from me, well aware of my age.
Coming out of it, I felt relief but also a little saddened – it was an amazing experience and it felt like it was over too soon. The hour-fifteen panel went smoothly, no tech issues or microphones coming unmuted at inopportune times. I managed to give my opinion on topics without feeling like I was uninformed and without tripping over my words and honestly the support from the Voice, Influence and Change team was a lovely thing to receive as they all bombarded my Whatsapp.
It’s a bit of a strange thing to say that I’ve spoken on such a high level but I’m immensely proud of it. It’s truly upped my skills and allowed me a more global perspective on youth voice issues.
The MEP David Lega, who is Co-chair of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on children’s rights, was so impressed with Charlotte that he invited her to join him in Brussels for a stint of work experience. We really hope that Charlotte will be able to take him up on his offer once safe international travel is back on the cards.
Anybody wanting to find out more about youth voice and Leeds Youth Council should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @LeedsYouthVoice on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.