Debate Opinion Devolution: young representatives on local power I joined my local Youth Council in 2013 as a Youth Councillor. In that time I secured funding for a Christmas party at the local youth club (it would have been charge on entry, and so for that night not everyone would’ve had equal access to the club) and I also worked on a survey to see what people wanted to do in the area, to then look at what is available and fill the gaps. I also did some work on local transport. During that time, I struggled engaging local politicians with issues of young people, as the particular area I live in has changed significantly in recent years: the generations live completely different lives. I was then elected as MYP in 2015. Since then I’ve been able to find out more about the issues across the city I live in, not just the local area. I found it interesting as the issues across the city were really different to those specific to where I live. My favourite part of being an MYP is visiting schools and talking to students, not just because I like to talk (a lot) but because the area I live in is so diverse and I enjoy finding out how school councils are fighting the same battles (exam stress, bullying, canteen food, ) but all in a different way. I think we have the same problems as other areas of England (and a few more), but very different need and entirely different outcomes. We have problems with intolerance and poverty but the way of tackling them in Salford would be entirely different because the city is so diverse and need is different from community to community across Salford – let alone from city to borough across England. We also have a big problem with gangs and crime, which is massively an effect of poverty. If poverty is causing violence - and I mean 21 shootings in 18 months (probably higher when you read this) sort of violence - it would be ridiculous to solve the problem in the same way that you would solve in an area where poverty is causing other issues. Devolution allows for decisions to be made for local need and by local people, which can only be a good thing. I don’t think devolution is the answer to all the problems for Greater Manchester but I do think that it is a brilliant opportunity for us to meet local need better. The biggest problem I can see with it is that local politicians will get caught up in the politics of it all rather than taking it as an opportunity to make the region great. Without a referendum, there’s been a lost opportunity for debate on what people want from and for Greater Manchester and I think that’ll only keep more people disengaged in the future. That being said, I’d have loved to have been MYP when Greater Manchester was devolved. It would have given me, and therefore the young people of Salford, more opportunity to influence decisions that affect our lives, because the people making them are right on our doorstep.