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‘Voice boxes’ hope to give east Suffolk youngsters their say

PUBLISHED: 09:26 26 September 2018

One of the Youth Voice boxes currently installed at a number of local schools Picture: CHLOE WINLOW

One of the Youth Voice boxes currently installed at a number of local schools Picture: CHLOE WINLOW

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Students in east Suffolk are being given the chance to present their views directly to council bosses.

Youngsters living in the Suffolk Coastal area are now able to let their local council know their views on important issues thanks to new “Voice boxes”.

The project is being run by the Communities Team at Suffolk Coastal District Council and follows a youth conference there earlier this year.

In neighbouring Waveney a regular youth forum exists for youngsters to share their views, however, the geography of the Suffolk Coastal patch means that it is unsuitable for a similar system to be run there in the long term.

“Suffolk Coastal is such a big place to cover,” said Chloe Winlow, a communities support officer at Suffolk Coastal.

Instead the council decided to start up Youth Voice where students at a number of schools and youth clubs in the Suffolk Coastal area can write down their views and ideas to be considered by the council.

Each term the council will collect the specially marked boxes and sort through the ideas sent in by young people before looking over their ideas and giving them feedback.

Specially marked boxes are placed into schools and youth groups where youngsters can write down their views and ideas before they are taken back to the council.

“It gives everybody a chance to have a say,” said Miss Winlow, “ I am hoping it will evolve over time.

“It will go where the young people take it.”

The vast majority of schools in the district are currently signed up to the scheme along with a number of youth groups.

One of those groups signed up is Just 42, who are based in Woodbridge.

Caroline Rutherford from Just 42 said: “We wanted to get involved in this initiative as we had previously tried getting young people from across Suffolk and Suffolk coastal to discuss issues that they faced together, but as the area is so large and travel options are few, the young people decided to try something else! They came up with the idea to ask young people questions or ask for suggestions where they are, where they already meet - be it at school or in a youth club. So we were more than happy to get involved.

“It goes without saying that asking for young people’s input and ideas is a great idea, we also want them to be able to voice their concerns and their challenges.

“It will be interesting to see what is put in the boxes. The next stage is to then get some action - to make some changes or improvements in the lives of young people in our area.”

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