Gemma Mackintosh from Ardersier this week took up her new full-time role as the Highland’s Youth Convener. Gemma (16) will be the sounding board for youth issues in the Highlands and will have a direct line into policy makers and decision takers and will be a member of The Highland Council’s Education Culture and Sport Committee, with full voting powers.
Gemma, who attended Millburn Academy, Inverness, will be based at the Council’s Inverness headquarters but will also work with partner agencies. Her post is for one year.
She is the fourth Highland Youth Convener and takes over from Magnus Monahan from Spinningdale, Sutherland, who begins his further education career next week at Edinburgh University where he will study conservation and ecological management.
As Youth Convener, Gemma will:
- help with the Council’s co-ordination and communication with other young people;
- offer a consistent link for members and officials to informally seek their views; and
- attend Council and Planning Partner meetings where appropriate and has full voting rights on the Education, Culture and Sport Committee and Joint Committee for Children and Young People.
Gemma started working nationally with blind and partially sighted young people three years ago. This gave her the inspiration to work with other young people and she joined Highland Youth Voice around a year ago.
She said: “For me, this is a great opportunity to work with young people and try my best to make a difference for young people across Highland. I’m a strong believer in raising the profile of young people and including them in as many opportunities as possible. My area of interest is inclusion and over the next year I hope to get in contact with hard to reach young people and focus on issues, such as homophobia, as this came up in the last Highland Youth Voice conference.”
“I hope that the experience I gained working with youth work services nationally will allow me to engage with many young people and try and change some attitudes towards young people. Working with Highland Youth Voice as an executive member has highlighted issues which I hope to concentrate on throughout the year. I am really looking forward to starting and hope that I make a difference throughout my year as youth convener.”
Councillor Sandy Park, Convener of The Highland Council, said: “Gemma’s experience in youth and community matters will be very valuable in representing the views of young people during her year as youth convener. She will offer an important new dimension to the policy making and decision making process.”
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of Education Culture and Sport Committee, added: “I have no doubt that Gemma will prove a most able and persuasive champion for young people. We look forward to working with her.”
The Council already supports young people’s involvement through the Highland Youth Voice, the democratically elected youth parliament for 14-18 year-olds; Area Youth Forums; and Pupil Councils in all schools.