Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hackney Youth Parliament’s first debate in Hackney’s Town Hall

As the world pays homage to the survivors of nine eleven and the victims of seven seven, Hackney’s Youth Parliament undertook their first ever Conference in London’s Hackney Town Hall.

It was a fun filled day with the conference kicking off at 11am. Rhasan Brunner, the current Chair of the Hackney Youth Parliament, gave a rundown of the day’s events. There was a range of workshops looking at issues affecting young people from tackling drug misuse, teenage pregnancy and obesity to exploring social expectations around gender and behaviour.

There was an open debate in the Council’s main chamber that looked at the recent burning of the Quran in the USA which has given rise to facebook discussions with young people in Hackney. Those in the council chamber were able to explore the potential consequences for Hackney, as there is a large Jewish, Muslim and Christian community. Others pointed out there are many religious beliefs in Hackney and that all young people should be allowed to explore these identities without fear. Leroy Logan who has worked as Hackney’s Met Police Deputy Borough Commander, was able to offer reassurance by pointing out that as every year passes, from nine eleven to the seven seven bombings, Hackney’s hate crimes have remained low, suggesting community work by other organisation are largely successful with achieving social cohesion.

This conference rides on the success of Hackney’s youth members visiting America and having access to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Although one of the key focuses for this conference was to bring young people in the Borough together, another was to establish a Youth Manifesto. Rhasan reflected that many young people in Hackney are involved in positive things such as politics and that he is keen to come along to Hackney Unites to see how he can participate so that young people’s views and needs are included.

As the day come to a close there was a hot buffet and an opportunity for reflection. Hackney has many young people actively participating in community events to make their environment better. As I walked away from Hackney Town Hall, on to my next job, I could not help but think I had been in the company of tomorrow’s leaders.
Teena Lashmore

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