Young voices, big ideas

Students join Reading Youth Council to make young voices heard.

With politics in the air more so than ever with a general election imminent, two students have decided to take their first steps into getting their voices heard and speaking up for their peers as members of Reading Youth Council.

Faris Kadib and Gray Jenkins, two Year 12 students, decided they wanted to make a difference in their community, and have committed to attending meetings every two weeks with fellow youngsters, aged between 11-18, from all parts of the Reading community.

The  pair attended their first meeting with the council in May, where they discussed the campaigns they were going to focus on in the coming months. Youth councils exist for younger members of society to have their ideas and advice heard among decision-makers such as government bodies, or companies and organisation.

Gray explained: “ We had around 20-30 ideas ranging from student environments, to reputation of youth, to things for kids to do.

Faris is already an active member of the school community – he’s the school’s CCF (Combined Cadets Force) and is Careers Ambassador, explained why he signed up to be on the council.

“I’m busy so I didn’t really need to take on any more stuff for now,” he said. “But… I’ve seen stuff that happens locally. There’s not much for young people do in Reading and some just go out and cause trouble. I don’t want people who might be disadvantaged having nothing better to do than go out and cause trouble – I’d like to make a difference.”

Gray continues: “Some of the things we talked about was setting up youth activities throughout the year that kids would actually want to go to, like a youth club. But the problem is budget, as always.”

She experiences the prejudices young people face day to day and would like to help change that: “Anything we do we get in trouble for – even just standing on a street corner. In Bracknell, they’ve got this blaring high frequency alarm that only young people can hear to stop us ‘loitering’. It’s not a nice sound to be around. And it’s around a cinema, bowling arcade and restaurant – places that young people want to be around!

“It’s true there is a bad bunch of kids and obviously, you can’t stop that. But then the generalisation that one bad kid makes the whole group bad is wrong. So we’re trying to help with young people’s reputations by finding places for them to meet safely.

“We’re hoping to set up a couple of activities throughout the summer – we’re not quite sure yet what they’ll entail as we’ve only had one meeting.”

Another thing the youth council want to focus on is targeting decision-makers about extra support in schools for those with special needs.

“We’re thinking about going around our own schools and contacting other schools, surveying students to see how the help they’re getting can become better. I think it’s worthwhile. And it’s important I think for all areas of society have their voices heard.”

We look forward to hearing more about the youth council’s ideas. For those interested in finding out more, email or visit

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