Fifteen-year-old Connor Wold is a teenager on a mission.
Connor, of Eagley Road, Brierfield, was elected the new Member of Youth Parliament for Burnley two months ago and is already going about making his mark on the town.
The Visions Learning Trust student wants to raise awareness on youth mental health while encouraging other young people in town to find their voice.
“When I was announced as the new Member of Youth Parliament for Burnley I had a real feeling of excitement,” said Connor, who is studying a BTEC in construction and engineering along with taking GCSEs. “It was a big achievement and I am looking forward to the role. I was bored one day and my friend asked me to come along with them to one of the Youth Council meetings. I really enjoyed it and so I carried on going.”
A member of the Youth Council for two years, he was elected Burnley Youth MP after going up against six other candidates.
“All the other candidates had given really good speeches and I was surprised to be elected. That said, when I was listening to the other candidates, I learnt a lot about what people thought affected them in life today and how they could address these problems.
“One of our roles is to listen to any problems people may have and pass them on to the MP or councillors. We also do project work which this year involves raising awareness of youth mental health.”
Mental health is an issue close to Connor’s heart after suffering with it himself during his childhood. “This topic is becoming more and more important to young people today. This is because I have had to and still am having to face problems involving mental health in my life and I know how difficult it can be. This is why I feel mental health should be made more aware in the community and how it is not at all embarrassing to have a mental health problem. With the right knowledge and support it can be made at least just that bit easier to handle.
“We’re doing a sort of campaign and are in the process of putting together a pack which will offer advice, explain the referral process, things like that. Once it is done we are going to do a presentation to all the deputy headteachers in town and, if they pass it, we will hand it out through the schools.
“So far it’s all been really good,” added Connor, who has replaced Hollie Foden as MP. “I’ve met a lot of people. I recently had a meeting with Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley MP) who was asking about what we are doing. He said I would be able to shadow him at some point in the future which will be really good.
“If any youngsters out there would like to represent the people of the town and get their word heard, I would recommend they get in touch.”
Any young person aged 13 to 19 interested in being a Youth Member of Parliament, or joining Burnley Youth Council, should contact youth worker Roger Inglis Roger.Inglis@lancashire.gov.uk or 01282 471222.