Teenage councillor hoping to champion town’s youth

Sam Kenward, 19, just become a new Town Councillor for Beccles and the Council's new youth champion.

Sam Kenward, 19, just become a new Town Councillor for Beccles and the Council's new youth champion.Sam Kenward with Graham Catchpole, Hugh Taylor and Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A teenager is hoping that his role of youth champion for Beccles will help provide a link between the town’s young people and the council.

Sam Kenward, 19, was elected town councillor in May this year and was also selected to be the council’s youth champion and is hoping that he can address some of the issues facing young people.

Working with fellow councillor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, the pair have already set about meeting the youngsters of the town, visiting every primary and high school to speak directly to the pupils.

Mr Kenward, who has just finished at Sir John Leman High School and will be starting at the University of East Anglia in the autumn, said: “We felt that building up a relationship and improving communication with schools was really important.

“I started with Suffolk Council Youth Parliament and got involved with the town council before becoming councillor in May.”

Mrs Brambley-Crawsgaw said: “You often find that councils are made up of people who are older, so young people don’t feel they are represented and don’t necessarily vote, which can be hugely frustrating.

“I think politicians and councils need to stand up and actively make that change rather than ignoring it.”

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She said the school children had loved the visits from the new councillors. “St Benet’s school came into the chamber and they had their own council session and activities and it was brilliant.

“I think a lot of children and adults have never been in the council chamber and it belongs to everyone. and it just engages people.”

She said the children at first appear concerned about issues that affect their parents, but added: “If you dig a bit deeper, they are concerned about things like litter and having places to play.”

The pair are already getting stuck into their new roles, taking part in a clean-up of the children’s play park at Beccles Common and repainting some of the equipment.

One of the areas of interest to them is the skate park in Beccles which still attracts skaters from Lowestoft and Norwich despite being in need of a revamp.

Mr Kenward said the condition of the skate park was an ongoing issue and the council would be looking at ways in which in could be improved, working with the users of the site.

Beccles mayor Hugh Taylor said: “There is strong support for the work of the youth champions from the whole council.

“We really see it as a partnership with the people of the town.”

If you have an issue which affects young people which you would like to raise with the councillors, email sam.kenward@hotmail.co.uk or brambleycrawshaw@gmail.com

•Do you have a story from the Beccles area? Email lynn.crombie@archant.co.uk or call 01502 712060 to speak to a reporter.