Rules of operation of the Youth Council
The purpose of the Youth Council
The aim of youth council activities is to ensure that the voice of young people is heard in the city’s decision-making and that the participants in the Youth Council represent young residents from different backgrounds. The Lappeenranta Youth Council is a permanent, politically and religiously unaffiliated cooperative body of the city and the people living and studying within it, primarily minors and youth organisations. The activities are carried out in accordance with the principles of non-discrimination and equality. The Youth Council is subordinate to the City Board and is part of the operation of the youth services. The membership and activities of the Youth Council are based on voluntary participation by young people. The Youth Council participates in various events aimed at young people.
The Youth Council
– promotes and monitors activities in different areas of administration from the perspective of young people and promotes cooperation between the City of Lappeenranta and the youth of the region
– acts as a link between young people and the decision-makers
– represents the opinions of young people in the City Council and in the committees and work groups where the members of the Youth Council have the right to speak and attend
– oversees the interests of young people
– prepares initiatives and proposals, gives opinions on matters concerning young people and monitors their handling and municipal decision-making
– contributes to the fact that, in developing general services, the municipality ensures their adequacy and suitability for young people
– promotes young people’s interest in following social issues.
Assembling the Youth Council and general meeting
The Youth Council is elected by school elections every other year. In each secondary school and upper secondary school, one representative is elected for every 200 pupils (1–200 = 1,201–1,400 = 2,401–2,600 = 3, etc.). All the candidates are deputy representatives in the order of the number of votes. Schools may organise elections with a procedure they deem appropriate. Three representatives and three deputy representatives will be reserved for the vocational institution, the selection procedure for which will be agreed upon with the representative of the educational institution. Discretion may be exercised in the electoral principles in order to achieve regional equality if, for example, the numbers of pupils in schools change. The Youth Council organises annually a general meeting, an advocacy day or some other similar event open to all young people in Lappeenranta. In connection with the event (so-called checkpoint), it is possible for a Youth Council member to request a resignation from the Youth Council without a separate justification. In connection with the event, it is possible for the youth centres or, for example, other organisations working with young people or free groups of young people to propose new members to replace the leaving Youth Council members. The general meeting prepares a proposal on these, which will then be approved by the General Assembly. In this arrangement, the membership of the Youth Council is not tied to the place of education of the young person. This enables the participation of young people outside education, enables advocacy activities for more young people and makes joining and leaving the Youth Council smoother. When the members change, the aim is that the number of members of the Youth Council will remain the same. However, it is possible for youth work to exercise discretion to secure the principles of non-discrimination and equality.
Roles and organisation of meetings
The Youth Council elects from among its members the chairpersons including the Chair, Deputy Chairs, Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Communications Manager. The Youth Council meets once a month and may invite experts and partners from different fields to participate in its meetings. The meetings are open to the public. The meeting may be convened by the chairpersons or by an instructor appointed by the youth services. In the organisation of the meetings, appropriate use is made of digital tools and conference services. For example, it is appropriate to offer equal opportunities for participation to young people living in different parts of Lappeenranta. The meetings are prepared in preparatory meetings that are open to all Youth Council members. In the preparatory meeting, the items to be discussed at the meeting are listed and the texts of the agenda are formulated. Meeting agendas can be explored by discussing and, for example, by inviting expert guests. In addition to the formulation of meeting agendas, the preparatory meeting serves as a place for grouping and meeting other Youth Council members. The minutes of the Youth Council are prepared, inspected, submitted to the City Council for information and posted on the city’s website for public viewing. The Youth Council prepares an annual report. The youth services appoint the employees to act as supervisors of the Youth Council and to support independent activities of young people.
The central task of the Youth Council is to bring young people’s voice to decision-making, to increase the opportunities for influencing for young people in Lappeenranta and to provide young people with information and the opportunity to take interest in social issues. In order to strengthen the voice of young people, the Youth Council organises subject-specific influencing opportunities for young people. In practice, this could mean, for example, preparing an opinion on a particular issue in cooperation with student associations, hobby clubs or youth organisations or organising a regional, local or school-specific thematic event. In this case, influencing does not require a long-term commitment on the part of the young people who are involved in the situation or express their opinions.
Representative influencing and patron councillors
The members of the Youth Council have the right to attend and speak in certain committees and working groups and the City Council. The Youth Council elects from among its members a representative and a deputy representative for each committee. The committee representatives are expected to interact with the Youth Council and act as the voice of young people in the committees. Each council group elects from among its members a representative, a patron councillor, for the Youth Council. The patron councillors are invited to the Youth Council meetings.
The meeting fee for a member of the Youth Council is €20/meeting/person. The representatives of the Youth Council in different committees and working groups are paid a half meeting fee and travel allowance from the appropriations of the committee/working group in question in accordance with the city’s fee and travel regulations as of the beginning of 2009.
The task of the chairpersons is to create a good team spirit in the Youth Council by acting in an inspiring and supportive manner and taking into account all kinds of participants. The chairpersons jointly agree on the duties of the chairpersons, secretaries and communications manager. It is appropriate that not all responsibility and work fall on an individual young person.
The Youth Council
The Youth Council organises annually a general meeting, an advocacy day or some other similar event open to all young people in Lappeenranta. In connection with the event (so-called checkpoint), it is possible for a Youth Council member to request a resignation from the Youth Council without a separate justification. In connection with the event, it is possible for the youth centres or, for example, other organisations working with young people or free groups of young people to propose new members to replace the leaving Youth Council members. The general meeting prepares a proposal on these, which will then be approved by the General Assembly. In this arrangement, the membership of the Youth Council is not tied to the place of education of the young person. This enables the participation of young people outside education, enables advocacy activities for more young people and makes joining and leaving the Youth Council smoother.
Foundation of operations
Local Government Act, Section 26, Youth councils
To secure the opportunity for young people to participate and exert an influence, the local executive must set up a youth council or similar group representing young people’s views (youth council) and ensure the operational preconditions for it. A youth council can be shared by two or more municipalities. Youth councils must be given the opportunity to influence the planning, preparation, execution and monitoring of the activities of the municipality’s different areas of responsibility in matters of importance to the well-being, health, education, living environment, housing or mobility of the municipality’s residents and also in other matters that the youth council considers to be significant for children and young people. Youth councils must be involved in the municipality’s work to develop children’s and young people’s participation and the opportunities for their views to be presented.
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12
The right to be heard and to express opinions concerning oneself and one’s own life is a basic and human right guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The same right to the child is guaranteed in our Constitution (Section 6.3). As a UNICEF Child Friendly Municipality, the city of Lappeenranta is committed to promoting the rights of children in every way.