Spring 2008 to Spring 2010
We pioneered the first Young Mayor election in Middlesbrough in 2002, at a point where voter apathy was at its highest level since the Second World War. Six years on, there were Young Mayors in Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Melton, Wyre Forest, Worthing, North Tyneside, Mansfield, Southend and Lambeth, and over 100,000 young people had taken part in elections. We were asked by DCLG 2008 to create the Young Mayor’s Network, a national forum where Young Mayors could discuss common issues and share best practice.
How we approached it
We drew on frontline political experience within the company, so as to think about the demands of practical politics. We carefully cultivated and managed cross-sector relationships, putting particular emphasis on active engagement with local schools. And we took advantage of new technologies, using flip-video cameras, hand-held perception analysers and web 2.0 throughout the candidate training processes.
The Young Mayor’s Network became a priority for the government of the time, with Communities Secretary Hon Hazel Blears MP announcing £2m to fund up to 20 new young mayor schemes. The Young Mayor’s Network continues to support directly elected young mayors, and to help local authorities considering the possibility of developing a young mayor scheme of their own. Once the programme had been put in place, the British Youth Council took over its long-term oversight.