Agenda-setting young people from the only Youth Combined Authority in the country have taken their seat at the decision-making top table alongside Greater Manchester leaders.
40 young people, representing 20 youth groups made history when they met for the first time on Wednesday February 28, setting out their ambitions for a Greater Manchester Curriculum for Life, as well as deciding how future meetings of the GMYCA will run. Later that week they presented their views to Leaders and Chief Executives from across the city-region.
Opening the GMYCA, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “I am so proud to welcome you all tonight to the first meeting of the Youth Combined Authority.
“You’re not here for show – you’re here to do a job and speak for young people in your street, in your school and in your community.”
The GMYCA will undertake specific pieces of work, and develop real policies that will improve the lives of young people. One of their first tasks will be to develop the Mayor’s plans for an ‘opportunity pass’ which will build on half price bus and tram travel and open up access to leisure, sporting and cultural activities, as well as work placements and apprenticeships. The GMYCA will also advise the Mayor and GMCA on key issues affecting young people, and scrutinise the work of Greater Manchester’s leaders.
Andy added further praise for the GMYCA, saying: “This is how we’re doing politics in Greater Manchester – we’re taking power from Westminster and giving it to people to shape their communities.”
“We’re not going to let you have meetings and then do nothing. We’re going to listen to your ideas – and whilst we may challenge you on how they can be delivered – we will work with you to see how we can bring them to fruition.”
Members immediately sprang into action, telling Leaders and Chief Executives at the Combined Authority’s Reform Board on Friday, March 2 what they had discussed earlier in the week. Members of the Reform Board agreed work together with the GMYCA to establish a Greater Manchester Curriculum for Life that provides all young people in the city-region with a firm footing for adulthood.
GMYCA member Mia Uddin said: “I was really pleased to be chosen to be one of the first members of the Youth Combined Authority, and then two days later we were sitting at a table with the Mayor and other decision-makers discussing what is important to us. It feels really good to be able to have these conversations with them, and help to make a real difference for young people across Greater Manchester.”
Youth Combined Authority member Nathan Gonzales said: “In the first week of the GMYA we’ve told the Mayor, leaders and Chief Executives why the current school curriculum doesn’t teach us everything we need to know– like cooking healthy meals and managing finances, and it’s amazing they’re listening to us and are willing to work together to make the Curriculum for Life a reality.”
Reflecting on the success of the first week of the GMYCA, Cllr Rishi Shori, portfolio lead for Young People and Social Cohesion. Rishi said: “It was great to be part of the very first meeting for the only Youth Combined Authority in the country. Young people need a voice and this is our chance to improve the city-region for the benefit of young people.”
The GMYCA is supported by Youth Focus NorthWest, who have been leading the campaign for a Youth Combined Authority for years. Chief Executive Liz Harding said: “Youth Focus NorthWest are honoured to be the delivery partner for the GMYCA. It’s great that as well as the 10 youth councils, 10 youth organisations are coming together and amplifying young people’s voices for Greater Manchester.”