"We are part of a generation that are able to see this isn't right and needs changing"
What Steven asked Rose Stokes, Chair of Medway Youth Council
When putting together our upcoming Medway Question Time event, we were happy when the Medway Youth Council agreed to take part. So Steven went to Gun Wharf to meet with their Chair, Rose Stokes, to discuss the role of the organisation, why young people should have a voice, and if they are being brainwashed by woke teachers.
Where were you born?
Which part of Medway have you lived in?
I've grown up in Chatham.
What jobs did your parents do?
This is where they find out you have no idea what they do.
My mum is a university lecturer, and my dad, I don't know how to put into words. He works in Nucleus Arts.
How do you find school?
I think it's alright. It's as fun as school can be sometimes.
What subjects do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy geography, history… Yeah, mostly geography and history.
Has your name ever appeared on a ballot?
Through the Youth Council, when we did the chair elections, I was up for ballot. I was elected as Chair.
What is the Medway Youth Council?
It is a diverse group of 11 to 18-year-olds. We will work together on campaigns and issues that young people in Medway are facing.
What does the average day with the Medway Youth Council entail?
A lot of emails! I run the meetings on Fridays when there's events I’ll attend. I speak at Overview and Scrutiny meetings, and I give speeches like the Holocaust Memorial Day speech. Mostly just running the admin stuff, making sure everything’s going as it should be.
Can you give me an example of a campaign that you're working on?
We have been currently working on men’s mental health. We’ve got our conference in November. We've had LGBTQA+ campaigns, we've had climate change ones. There have been lots of different campaigns that we've done recently.
What sort of Chair would you say you are? How do you approach the role?
I think I like getting work done, but at the same time, we're volunteers. No one is getting paid, so it's kind of having fun while doing it.
What was it that made you go for the role?
I think I like taking charge of quite a lot of stuff, so being able to actually have that as my role, from being able to say ‘yeah this is what we are going to get done, and this is how we are going to do it.’
How is it different to the UK Youth Parliament?
UK Youth Parliament is more of a national one and they look at national problems. We look at issues that are facing Medway and young people in Medway in general.
Have you had any interaction with the Youth Parliament?
UKYP have been focusing more on food and getting free school meals. We were doing a project with them, but I think it's been delayed. We are our own group.
When did you get involved with the Medway Youth Council?
Three years ago. It was just after we came out of lockdown. Some of the meetings were still online. It was the old cabinet, who had kind of moved away as they came to the age of 18. So most of us were really new. My dad actually introduced me to it, and I met Karen (Yusuf, Youth Development Worker at Medway Council) and we all started joining in.
What was it about it that made you decide to get involved?
It's a fun environment to be part of. We were actually making a difference. You often find that people complain but they don’t actually do anything about it. I was able to complain and then do something about it. I made quite a lot of friends whilst I was here, and you get to do quite a lot of things that you wouldn’t get to do normally.
What additional roles, paid or unpaid, do you do?
I am part of the Medway under-16 girls’ rugby team. I also do girl guides. I coach under-9’s mini rugby team.
What were the Medway Youth Awards, and will they be running in 2023?
They are about finding young people in Medway, who do extraordinary things and are just amazing in general, and we kind of say ‘You're doing brilliantly, we appreciate you’ and give them an award to show all the amazing things young people do. It won't be running in 2023, but it will be running in 2024 as far as I'm aware.
Is that because nobody has done anything worth celebrating?
No, it’s because it’s a lot of work to put the awards on, so we are going to do it every other year, rather than annually.
Where do you like to go for dinner in Medway?
That’s a good question. I love Spoons in Chatham. We don’t go out for dinner all that much.
Can you name a charity you think is doing vital work for local people?
Nucleus Arts is brilliant! There is MASH Medway, they are really good. There’s so many. Club AUsome, they’re good. They help people with autism. Oh, Medway Pride Radio, they are good.
What hobbies or interests do you have?
So, rugby, definitely. I love camping, that kind of stuff. I don't know what hobbies I have. MYC takes up a lot of my time, and then rugby and schoolwork.
What has been the biggest improvement to Medway in your lifetime?
Nothing I can think of. There have been some. I think there has been a change in how people look at minority groups. The social perspective has changed. Especially with lockdown.