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LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEK: HEAR BY RIGHT STANDARDS FRAMEWORK LAUNCHED

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The National Youth Agency and the Local Government Association kicked off this year's Local Demcracy Week on Monday...
The National Youth Agency and the Local Government Association kicked off this year's Local Demcracy Week on Monday by announcing the launch of a new Hear by Right standards framework to engage children and young people in local democratic processes.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, chair of the LGA, said: 'Many young people have little knowledge of the services their local council provides or how to approach it if they need to. They often feel their votes make no difference or that their ideas and needs do not matter. This is reflected in a falling interest in local politics and declining turnout at elections.

'The Local Government Association is working in partnership with youth organisations and central government to break down these barriers by encouraging young people to become more involved with community issues and interested in local government. For example, several local authorities have set up youth councils to engage with young people and provide an opportunity for their concerns and ideas to be discussed.

'Local Democracy Week 2003 invites councils to work with young people to build a better understanding of democracy and how local services and decision-making are relevant to them, today and in the future. Young people have a valuable contribution to make to society - we must ensure their voice is heard to create a better future for all our communities.'

Hear by Right offers a tried and tested standards framework for organisations to assess and improve practice and policy on the active involvement of children and young people, leading to better services. Pioneered by the NYA and the LGA in conjunction with a number of local councils, Hear by Right is now ready to be rolled out across the statutory and voluntary sector.

Bishop Roger Sainsbury, chair of the NYA, said: 'Children and young people are key members of all local communities. They live in the same areas, they use and receive the same services, and they have the same rights and responsibilities as other members of local communities. They represent a section of every community that has its own needs, views and aspirations. Children and young people have the right to express their views and to be heard as set out in The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Standards Framework in Hear by Right encourages councils to look seriously at how they currently involve and engage children and young people in local democratic processes and how to improve this.'

Hear by Right has been successfully piloted in a number of local authorities including Cambridge CC, Cheshire CC, Durham CC, Islington LBC, Norfolk CC and Taunton

Deane BC. Many have made the important step of involving young people in evaluating the changes made due to Hear by Right. A young person from Durham said: 'We looked for evidence of where adults are not just listening, but acting; if Hear by Right is successful, there will be more activity.'

The NYA offers further materials and support to help put Hear by Right into

practice - please visit: http://www.nya.org.uk/

NOTES:

1. The NYA was founded in 1992 and is based in Leicester. Our main aim is to support the ever growing and ever demanding world of youth work and informal education. We promote young people's personal and social development, and their voice, influence and place in society. The agency works to improve and extend youth services and youth work; to increase youth participation in society; and to promote effective youth policy and provision.

2. More information about the work of The NYA is available on our website:

www.nya.org.uk

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