Harlow Youth Council ambassadors show future is bright

General / Sat 8th Apr 2023 at 11:38am

IT seemed very fitting that after two 90-year-old women had spoken on Thursday’s Harlow Council meeting that two teenagers, representing Harlow Youth Council, spoke.

The past was praised in glowing terms and the future looked very bright indeed.

Firstly, Ella gave a report on the work of Harlow Youth Council over the past year.

Then Nicoleta aged a question to cllr Joel Charles

Nicoleta Cerescu to Councillor Joel Charles (Portfolio Holder for Business and Community Resilience):

Harlow Youth Councillors were really pleased to be able to share feedback on the Councils health and wellbeing strategy. Childhood obesity is a real concern as Harlow has the highest percentage of children overweight/obese in year 6 in Essex. Can you tell us what resources the council will make available, financial, or otherwise, to support and encourage families to make better lifestyle decisions around eating habits and being physically active during the cost-of-living crisis?

What do you suggest Youth Councillors could do to help/get involved?

Reply from Councillor Joel Charles (Portfolio Holder for Business and Community Resilience):

The Council very much welcomes the continued role the Youth Council is playing to keep a focus on some of the key priorities included in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. It should also be recognised that the Youth Council played an important role in helping to develop the strategy before it went out to wider consultation.

It is right to raise the issue of obesity levels amongst young people in the town as stored up health issues are awaiting a whole generation if the trend is not arrested soon. Obesity is linked to a wide range of diseases, including type two diabetes, heart disease and mental health conditions. At a national level, the Department of Health and Social Care estimated late last year that obesity costs the NHS £6 billion annually and this is set to rise to over £9.7 billion each year by 2050.

Action on obesity is being taken at a local level. The Health and Wellbeing Strategy has completed the consultation phase required as part of the adoption process. Council officers are working with partners, including some of the town’s healthcare leaders, who sit on the Health and Wellbeing Board locally to refine the emerging action plan. One of the outcomes set out in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy, to be achieved by 2028, is to enable weight loss in the town by addressing environments that support or promote obesity. This 2028 outcome is included as a central feature in the emerging action plan. The aim is to facilitate the ability for the Youth Council to take a leading role in supporting the delivery of the obesity outcome target.

There is also a great opportunity for the Youth Council to develop a relevant project to address childhood obesity and to bid for some of the public health funding that is provided by Essex County Council to deliver the Health and Wellbeing Strategy priorities, or indeed, other forms of support that might be relevant. Council officers are committed to working with the Youth Council to explore how more progress and a specific intervention can be designed to prevent more young people having to live with the long-term health consequences of obesity.

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3 Comments for Harlow Youth Council ambassadors show future is bright:

Mark Gough
2023-04-08 13:51:29

Fantastic. Our Youth Councillors have always been shining lights in our local democracy. Long may it continue! Mark Gough - Reform UK

Tony Durcan
2023-04-08 15:25:04

It was very refreshing to hear a different voice in the council chamber, providing a great insight into the challenges and opportunities facing young people in Harlow. I hope those in charge after the May election will ask for a copy of the speech and include the youth council views and suggestions. Very proud of the youth council.

James Leppard
2023-04-09 00:55:37

On this occasion, I agree with Cllr Tony Durcan’s comments.

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