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Councillors determined to make the voices of young people heard

PUBLISHED: 12:41 06 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:17 06 June 2018

Andrea Downes and Caroline Topping are the new Beccles Youth Champions.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Andrea Downes and Caroline Topping are the new Beccles Youth Champions. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Two town councillors are hoping to encourage greater engagement with the young people of Beccles to ensure their voices and ideas are heard.

Andrea Downes and Caroline Topping are the new Beccles Youth Champions.
Picture: Nick ButcherAndrea Downes and Caroline Topping are the new Beccles Youth Champions. Picture: Nick Butcher

Caroline Topping and Andrea Downes will once again be acting as the youth champions for Beccles Town Council in the coming year.

The pair are keen to build on the work they did last year alongside Sam Kenward – who has since stepped down as a youth champion .

They are also planning to continue the Beccles Youth Express magazine as well as open a new youth café in Blyburgate Hall.

Mrs Topping said: “It will be an informal youth café rather than a club. A place for young people to come in and have a space to do homework, have a chat.

Andrea Downes and Caroline Topping are the new Beccles Youth Champions.
Picture: Nick ButcherAndrea Downes and Caroline Topping are the new Beccles Youth Champions. Picture: Nick Butcher

“Even skateboard in the car park as there will be four town councillors supervising.”

The idea for the youth club was first suggested to the councillors by teenagers in the area – who felt the space would act as a deterrent for troublesome behaviour.

She said: “We were interested in talking to young people to discuss what they need in Beccles that would stop them getting into trouble.

“We held a meeting and they were brilliant. They had lots of ideas and even gave a Powerpoint presentation.”

Ms Downes added: “It’s great because they have got these ideas that haven’t been hampered down by the wider world.

“They need to know they are recognised and we are listening.”

The councillors are now hoping more young people will follow suit and provide suggestions which will benefit the town for the next generation.

Ms Downes is also determined to promote greater understanding of mental health among the town’s youngsters and let them know the facilities available.

She said: “I am on the town council because I love Beccles. My passion is mental health and I have learnt a lot about what is available.”

Ms Downes outlined the pressures youngsters today face, such as exam stress, that they may be unwilling to talk about.

Over the next year the councillors will work to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and develop links to organisations to help those impacted by it.

For more information or to get in touch with the councillors visit the Beccles Youth Champions Facebook page.

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