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Looking to the future of democracy with Pembrokeshire’s young people

YOUNG people filled the Council chamber recently as they got involved with Democracy Matters.

The event organised by Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman, Cllr Pat Davies with the Electoral Services Team and the Children and Young People’s Rights Office was well attended by invited youngsters.

There were teens from local youth clubs, The Hive, Sea Cadets, Young Farmers Clubs, Pembrokeshire College, youth outreach, Pembrokeshire Youth Assembly and other youth groups.

A panel made up of Cllr Davies, Cllr Simon Hancock, Ella Downing from the Electoral Commission, Jess Blair from the Electoral Reform Society and Alistair Birch from Pembrokeshire County Council Were asked a number of probing and intelligent questions on the night, with interesting views expressed by all.

Discussions included a focus on increasing diversity and encouraging more women to get involved in politics, the issues with social media, Wales’ votes at 16 policy and getting young people to register to vote, and voting reform.

There was not only a chance to debate and discuss democracy – and why it matters – but also the opportunity to take part in a mock election vote with a polling booth set up in County Hall, Haverfordwest.

The young people were tasked with answering the key question of the Pembrokeshire Youth Assembly, a county wide youth forum including representatives from all secondary schools and youth councils.

They were reminded that their voice matters, and were asked “What matters to you?” before voting on the most important issue to them in 2023 from 11 options.

These included the cost of living crisis, mental health, emotional health and wellbeing, housing, education, social media, diversity and safety.

The Children and Young People’s Rights Office aims to consult with all Pembrokeshire teens on what matters to them and the results will be used to work collectively with others to promote and campaign to influence change.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman Cllr Pat Davies said: “I was delighted to see so many young people getting involved with democracy and what it means to them.

“There were some extremely insightful questions and it is encouraging to see the interest in democracy and political education for all our young people which bodes well for the future.”