This week in Bristol and Me, we speak to Hannah Hier, Bristol Youth Mayor
I’m a proactive teenager who cares about young people’s voices in society, making sure they have a say in decisions affecting them; that leaders look beyond the present to think about young people’s futures. I became Bristol Youth Mayor in February. The position is elected by fellow members of Bristol City Youth Council, which comprises 28 young people voted for by 12,500 peers across the city.
Myself and co-Youth Mayor Jack Pitt meet the mayor every month to discuss what young people want from him and what he’d like from us.
We also regularly liaise with Bristol City Council cabinet members, attend formal events – such as Remembrance Sunday – and consult with equality groups, such as Freedom (LGBTQ+), Unity (BME) and Listening Partnership (disabled young people). When we take their concerns to the mayor or cabinet members, we really feel listened to.
We are campaigning to make personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education compulsory, and to make its teaching more consistent and inclusive. That’s why we organised a PSHE conference, drawing together students and teachers from across the city for workshops, discussions and guest speakers. Maths and English are obviously important, but PSHE covers finance, mental health, discrimination, understanding different groups in society – things that prepare for future life and better employability, but which we’re currently left to figure out for ourselves. This is 2018, and we need to update the curriculum.
The biggest issue for young people in Bristol? Time and again, mental health comes up as key.
School counsellors and student support teachers are being cut, just as the new GCSEs bring added pressure; we need to create a conversation about mental health and make sure it’s not a taboo subject. Another big concern is transport, especially bus timetabling at school time, and price; we are trying to raise the upper age of a child’s ticket from 16 to 18. Work experience is also a big issue and, like PSHE, inconsistent across schools. With the council, we’ve created a website called Bristol WORKS to offer opportunities of connections and work experience.