Aged 13-17? Islington Youth Council wants you

Ryan said he couldn't even speak in front of his class before joining the council. Now, he regularly

Ryan said he couldn't even speak in front of his class before joining the council. Now, he regularly holds Islington Council to account at town hall meetings - Credit: Archant

Profile: Ryan Mackim, 16, breaks down his ‘invaluable’ experience

As a voice of his generation, 16-year-old Ryan Mackim considers standing for Islington Youth Council to be one of his best life decisions.

And with 12 new positions open for the 2016-18 council, outgoing member Ryan has a simple message for conscientious teenagers across the borough: “You should definitely give it a shot.”

Applications opened on Tuesday. Anyone aged between 13-17 who lives in Islington, attends one of its schools or is looked after by the council can apply to stand for election.

For Ryan, it brings back memories of September 2013, when the then Year 10 pupil found out about the council at St Aloysius’ College.

He said: “I saw election posters around my school and it seemed really interesting to me. I had been on the school council and when I read about this, it seemed like a great opportunity to represent my peers.”

After passing the council’s first round of applications, Ryan, of Marlborough Road, Upper Holloway, was one of 24 teens vying for the 12 spots. Each candidate had to run their own election campaign.

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“The campaign was hard,” he admitted. “The council supported us well, but ultimately it’s down to you as an individual to win votes: learning how to engage with people and use social media and YouTube etc.

“You have to be prepared to speak to young people. If you are determined, that will shine though and I think it showed in my campaign.”

Nearly 5,000 young people voted in the election and Ryan made the cut. But what does the youth council actually do?

“Since we started in February last year, we have achieved a lot. I mainly worked in youth provision, shaping what young people want from youth clubs etc. We have represented the views of young people at consultations.

“I think adult councillors do a great job, but without the youth council there would be a lack of direct involvement. We have also asked questions of the council leaders and executive at town hall meetings.

“One thing I was really proud of was being on the recruitment panel when the council was hiring staff for its youth services.

“It was a really interesting to see people, who were obviously very nervous, going through the interview process.”

Ryan, who is about to start an accountancy apprenticeship with the NHS in Enfield having completed his GCSEs this summer, also discussed the significant personal impact of sitting on the youth council.

“The one thing I got out of being a councillor was confidence. Before this, I wouldn’t have been able to speak in front of my class. Now, after this, I feel perfectly confident speaking in front of an entire council.

“My communication skills have really improved, and I have gained a lot of knowledge. For example, I didn’t really know anything about mental health before I started.

“It’s such a brilliant experience. You learn so much, you are well supported and the skills you learn are invaluable going into the modern workplace.

“I think I have found a potential career from my experience. I would like to go into local politics and maybe beyond. If you think you can represent your peers, you should definitely give it a shot.”

Islington Youth Council: key info

Every two years, 12 youth councillors are elected to represent the young people of Islington.

Once elected, the council chooses four priorities. In the 2014-16 term, these are youth provision, youth employment, health and wellbeing and career and education planning.

The council’s achievements included a commended formal submission to Islington’s Employment Commission report. This included feedback from youth councillors on their experiences of careers education and guidance.

Councillors also ensured that issues for young people on physical and mental health were considered in Islington Council’s five-year health strategy.

The deadline for applications is October 1. Successful applicants must then attend one of two information sessions on either October 6 or 7.

The youth council election will be on November 25, with results announced the following day. Its term of office begins in February.

Last time, nearly 5,000 young people voted in the elections and the council wants even more to turn out this year.

For more information, visit