Giving the town’s youngsters a voice

PUBLISHED: 10:41 12 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

Nick Smith

Nick Smith

YOUNG people who care about their community and want to contribute something positive have set up their own forum. The Voice of Hitchin Youth, with members aged from 11 to 21, asks young people what they really want. It also works with 25 groups including

YOUNG people who care about their community and want to contribute something positive have set up their own forum.

The Voice of Hitchin Youth, with members aged from 11 to 21, asks young people what they really want.

It also works with 25 groups including North Hertfordshire District Council, the police, churches, the Hitchin Christian Centre and ethnic minorities to get results.

It has had its first success with the launch of regular under 18s live music sessions at Club 85, which started last month.

Members are also working for better leisure facilities and more opportunities for sport.

One of those who is active in the group and has strong views on what young people think and want is Priory School head boy Nick Smith.

He said members are fed up with the way some young people behave and the lack of recognition for the responsible ones.

"One common complaint that young people have is that none of the powers-that-be are willing to listen to them - or at least they find those in a position of power hard to get access to," said Nick.

Members of the Voice, which was set up with support from the district council and its Hitchin committee, are able to present their ideas to councillors and get practical advice and help from the right people.

"The second aim of the Voice, one which is crucial to people's perception of young people, is to get the town's young people actively involved in the community, teaching them to take pride in and responsibility for the place in which they live and learn," said Nick.

"Initiatives such as a town centre clean-up operation are already on the table and members of the Voice are working with the council to make this idea a reality.

"We are absolutely delighted that North Herts District Council is willing to set up this group and actually listen to what we have to say."

Voice chairman Christian Frisch added: "This is a fantastic opportunity for us, as youth, to change things for the better. Our meetings are packed full of enthusiasm and energy and would be even more so with more youth members.

"Every organisation that makes decisions in the town wants to talk to the Voice, so if you want your voice to be heard come and join us."

The Rev Tony Summerfield, of Hitchin Christian Centre, said: "Hitchin Voice is not only about getting better facilities but giving to the community.

"Hitchin is seen as a prototype for this youth initiative and it is hoped other groups will be set up across North Herts."

Cllr Tricia Gibbs, the district council's portfolio holder for community engagement, said: "Today's youngsters are the generation which will inherit the town. They deserve to be listened to and the council and others in Hitchin should respond positively to what they say."

If you would like more information about the Voice of Hitchin Youth, contact members at the Hitchin Christian Centre on 01462 442238 or the community development team at the council on 01462 474830.

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