A brand new Shadow Executive made up entirely of young people has been appointed in Manchester to help shape and challenge the decisions and policies of city leaders.
The eight-strong members of the Shadow Executive are all existing members of Manchester Youth Council and have been elected to their new roles as a way of strengthening the voice of the youth council by matching it to the democratic structure of the city council.
Each member of the Shadow Executive is partnered with an Executive Member of the Council to shadow them in their roles and decision-making, and to make sure the voice of young people is heard throughout.
The Shadow Executive has been welcomed by members of the Council's Executive who have all agreed to support young people.
Young people will receive training in problem solving, finance, and decision making, as well as in all areas of communication - including how to have difficult conversations - in order to ensure they are confident in working alongside lead members, whilst at the same time developing their all important 'Skills for Life'.
Council Executive members will also receive training to ensure they feel confident in working alongside young people, including understanding the role of the Youth Council, and how to ensure the voice of children and young people is heard when making decisions.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure, and Skills, Manchester City Council, said: "For the first time ever in the history of the council we're going to see the structure of the council mirrored exactly with the youth council. This means every executive member who is responsible for making decisions will work alongside a youth council member - mutually challenging, supporting, and advising each other. They will work as a team to make sure young people's opinions are central to the policy developments and decisions that affect their lives and communities.
"We want to hear what young people think, how they feel about the decisions that will impact them, and what they would do differently from us.
"I'm in no doubt that young people are the key to Manchester's future, and we're determined not just to listen to them, but also to learn."
15 year old Hanad Muse from Gorton is Shadow Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills and will be working alongside Councillor Rahman. He said: "I want to make the voice of youth more apparent in society, and want to make sure the rules that are made for us by the council are made with young people in mind."
As well as mirroring the different portfolio roles of the city council's Executive, the Shadow Executive will also have its own Leader and Deputy Leader.
Noor Fatima Rafi will be sharing the role of Leader of the Shadow Executive with two other Shadow Executive members during the year, whilst also holding the post of Shadow Executive member for Children and Families. She will be working alongside Councillor Garry Bridges in this role.
The 14-year old from Cheetham Hill, said: "I first got involved with Manchester Youth Council after hearing about it in school and really wanted to help make people's voices heard. I want children to have the best start in life and to have all the opportunities they can get. I also want to support Councillor Bridges in making schools a safe place for children and to make sure all children and young people get the best education they can, no matter what their background."
Plans to elect a Shadow Executive of young people were made at the start of the year, with members expected to be in post from March. Lockdown restrictions however meant an enforced delay to the process, but the new members are all now in place and starting to get to grips with their roles.
Daniel Baffoe aged 13 from Wythenshawe has been elected as Shadow Executive member for Neighbourhoods, shadowing Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar.
He said: "I hope to make a more accepting and welcoming Manchester and help other people to speak out about their religions, cultures and ethnicities."
Members of this inaugural Shadow Executive will be in post until May next year, when elections for it will be held alongside council local elections. Shadow members will normally hold their positions for a year, with annual elections to the posts from within the Manchester Youth Council membership.
The members of Manchester's Shadow Executive are:
Leader - Davina Adesanya, Noor Fatima Rafi, Alex Kennedy (they will share the role taking one term each over the course of the year)
Deputy Leader - Alex Kennedy
Health and Social Care - Mariam Ali
Children and Families - Noor Fatima Rafi
Culture, Leisure and Skills - Hanad Abdigaffar Muse
Environment, Highways & Planning - Davina Adesanya
Budget, digital transformation, ICT - Callum Shallcross
Housing and regeneration - Nima Hani Muse
Neighbourhoods - Daniel Baffoe