Agenda item

Annual Review of the Work Undertaken by Epping Forest Youth Council

To receive a presentation by the Epping Forest Youth Council on activities completed during this municipal year and activities proposed for the forthcoming year.


The Youth Councillors will also be screening their short promotional film about the MiLife C19 project, which can be viewed at the link below:


The Committee received an annual progress report on the work undertaken by the Epping Forest Youth Council supported by the Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team. Four Youth Councillors, Aliza Zarras from West Hatch, Martin Prinsloo from Davenant Foundation, Natalie Moffat from Roding Valley and Sonny Bazzoni from Epping St John’s gave an informative presentation on the activities of the Youth Council. Their views on the challenging year that unfolded with the unprecedented Covid crisis and national lockdowns was inspiring for the Committee to hear, and especially how the Youth Council’s work had helped them and their fellow students in the District’s secondary schools cope. The Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team was also commended for their guidance, training and support in continuing the strength of the District’s national award-winning Youth Council.


Highlights included:

·       A thank you for Council funding of £5,000 for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021;

·       Awards and additional funding received from the Jack Petchey Foundation;

·       #Your Say survey where young people shared their experiences during the Covid pandemic, and that the top three concerns were mental health, loneliness and isolation and education pressures;

·       MiLife C19 project and website that was helping young people to build their emotional resilience;

·       MiLife C19 promotional film had been distributed to seven District’s secondary schools see link

·       October 2020 half term community day litter picking event;

·       Staying safe campaign poster of youth councillors wearing their face coverings;

·       ‘Keep your Granny safe’ poster in October 2020 to remind everyone of the Covid guidelines for ‘hands’, ‘face’ and ‘space’ on hygiene and socially distancing;

·       Consultations and surveys undertaken with various local to national organisations;

·       EFYC topical mugs were sent to NHS staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital in February 2021 to remind them to take regular breaks;

·       Mugs were also sent to the secondary/independent schools’ headteachers/headmaster;

·       Being (virtual) guests of the Right Honourable Dame Eleanor Laing and the High Sheriff of Essex;

·       Having a youth voice and their continued liaison with other Essex youth councils;

·       Future EFYC projects, one of which had involved researching their family histories and working with Epping Forest District Museum on the exhibition on the Loughton Boys, holocaust survivors; and

·       Taking part on the EFYC 2021 conference in November 2021.


Councillor M Sartin, had been very impressed with the powerful message conveyed in the EFYC’s Keep your Granny safe poster.


Councillor S Rackham asked the youth councillors what had helped them get through the Covid pandemic? N Moffat replied that having something to do every day had made her feel active and the world more normal. M Prinsloo recalled that when the lockdown had started the Youth Council saw what the problems were and had wanted to make people feel less lonely and making the videos had helped him. S Bazzoni said that the Youth Council’s work had benefitted and helped him as their work had reached over 5,000 others and he was proud to be playing a part in that.


Councillor D Sunger praised the ‘Staying safe campaign’ poster which featured the youth councillors all wearing face coverings and asked if Zoom had helped youth councillors to connect more? S Bazzoni replied that Zoom had definitely assisted the youth councillors to socialise virtually with each other more and with other youth councils. A Zarras was looking forward to meeting others outside more. M Prinsloo agreed Zoom had helped but there had been some issues and they needed screen breaks, which had helped at school. Also Zoom allowed more people to interact virtually at the same time.


Councillor S Murray remarked that the funding achieved was impressive and that teachers were very impressed with the resilience of young people during the Covid crisis. The Councillor asked what had been the most difficult thing to face during Covid and what had the youth councillors got from the Duke of Edinburgh scheme? M Prinsloo replied that he was not taking part in the scheme because of the lockdowns but he would apply later. The three MiLife C19 top key issues on mental health, loneliness and educational pressures were the most difficult to overcome. S Bazzoni said that he had applied to do the scheme before lockdown but unfortunately the Royal Air Force cadets had shutdown. Mental health was the largest issue and cause for concern regardless of the Covid pandemic but became elevated because of the lockdown. Most young people had been more affected by the lockdowns but not Covid, so keeping the schools open had been the best decision. N Moffat agreed that lockdowns had been hard for teenagers because of the isolation from the people you wanted to talk to, your friends. Also, six youth councillors were already doing the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.


Councillor H Kane, as the previous portfolio holder and as a supporter of the Youth Council, was very proud of their work, how they had adapted and congratulated them.


Councillor C McCredie said that three youth councillors had made a presentation to the Epping Forest Independent Advisory Group a month ago and thanked D Butler, Young Persons Officer for her guidance.


Councillor A Patel was very impressed by the high standard of their presentation and how their voice was being heard by other youth organisations.


Councillor H Whitbread remarked that she was a big champion of the Youth Council and had started there herself ten years ago. It was a fantastic opportunity for young people to show leadership on key issues and long may the Youth Council continue.


Ms S Garner, who had been invited by the Committee to address members on mental health services for young people, agreed that it was important for young people to influence decisions and to continue to champion mental health and wellbeing.


Councillor M Sartin thanked the youth councillors for the informative presentation on the work that they had achieved throughout the year and wished them luck on their Youth Council Conference later in the year. She invited the youth councillors to stay to hear the next presentation on mental health services for young people which complemented the key issues that they had talked about.




(1)          That the annual progress of the work undertaken by the Epping Forest Youth Council during 2020/21 supported by the Council’s Community, Culture and Wellbeing team, be noted.

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