Summer is in session

Youth councillor Maryam wearing an orange youth council hoody stood in the corridor of Islington Town Hall

Maryam Conteh, youth councillor and Year 9 student at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, on her interest in politics, the need for more music education and why everyone should know about Lift youth hub

What made you want to be a youth councillor?

I found out about the youth council when Raj, from the council, came into our school. He said to us, how would you like to be a politician – to be part of a youth council, where you can make changes and impact others’ lives in a positive way? It was really enticing to me, as I’ve always had a real interest in politics. I like helping people and I see politics as a great way to do that, even if it’s not always the most efficient way.

You were elected in November. What’ve you been up to since?

The first couple of months were just an induction, so getting to know one another. We also voted in a youth mayor and our representative for The London Youth Assembly. It’s been really fun. Looking forward, we will be focusing on reducing crime and helping with the cost of living.

What do you think of the current youth offer in Islington?

There’s a wide range of activities that you can do, but I think there should be more music education. We do have incredible music services, but I would like to see that expand and become more of interest to young people in Islington.

I think it’s also very important that there are lots of free activities. Whether your interests are music, a writing course, or maths, it should be accessible. If these opportunities are limited to a certain group, they cannot benefit everyone.

What sorts of activities do you like to get involved in?

I have gone to different activities like the summer programme with Islington Boat Club, which is very fun. I’d recommend that to anyone. I wasn’t part of the youth centres until around September last year because I didn’t really know about them.

Now, I try to go to Lift at least once a week – mainly because they have a gym, which I think is really good, as a lot of gyms do not accept under-16s. I also like the wide range of stuff to do. There’s an archery club, cooking clubs, music sessions. I just wish that more people knew about it.

What would you say to someone who’s never been to their local youth hub?

I would first give them a map and tell them where the youth clubs are. If they don’t know what Lift is, I’d tell them it’s a place where you can make tonnes of friends and the staff are really friendly. You can learn more about yourself, in a way, and try new things. For example, I have done very little archery and I’m too scared to do the actual class, in case there are some pro archers in there! But I’ve heard it’s really fun and entertaining, plus it’s a new skill. So maybe one day I’ll try it out.

Find out more about Islington Youth Council and see what’s on for young people this summer.

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