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15 year-old girl from Ilford wants to make the youth’s voice heard

PUBLISHED: 08:57 26 October 2015 | UPDATED: 08:57 26 October 2015

Valentina Vettore, a 15-year-old girl who has been elected chairwoman of the Redbridge safer neighbourhood board

Valentina Vettore, a 15-year-old girl who has been elected chairwoman of the Redbridge safer neighbourhood board

Archant

She is only 15 years old but Valentina Vettore is already playing a role in the adult world.

A cabinet member for fairer Redbridge in the Youth Council, Valentina has just been elected chairwoman of Redbridge’s adult safer neighbourhood board.

“Adults have their views on what are the most important issues but the board had no young person and I thought it was important that everyone’s voices were heard, otherwise they don’t hear from the other side of the story,” she said.

The Year 11 pupil of the Ursuline Academy, Morland Road, Ilford, was elected to her new position at the safer neighbourhood board’s meeting earlier this month, replacing outgoing chairwoman Rita Chadha, chief executive of the Refugee and Migrant Forum Of East London (Ramfel).

“I decided to run because I feel really passionate about policing and crime,” Valentina told the Recorder.

“It was a big risk and I have to juggle school as well, but I took the plunge.”

There are no legal liabilities or statutory responsibilities attached to the role, but Valentina will have a say in deciding which projects the board would like to apply for funding, and monitor police performance during her year-long mandate.

Liz Pearce, operations manager at Redbridge CVS (Council for Voluntary Services), explained after reviewing the constitution “there were no reasons why someone sitting on that kind of board had to be an adult”.

Valentina, from Waltham Forest, is currently the only young person sitting on an adult council board across all London boroughs and she is not afraid to speak out to make a positive contribution.

“They will just have to listen now because the youth does have a voice and we will make it heard,” she said.

“It is important to empower young people because they are the future generations.”

One priority she wanted to tackle was “sexting”, which she said was a big problem in schools across the borough with adults not always aware of what is happening in playgrounds.

She urged young people “to use social media responsibly” and hopes to work with the council to raise awareness on the issue.

While Valentina has no set career plans and is considering going into politics, astrophysics or drama.

“It doesn’t make choosing sixth form options very easy,” she added.

The panel meets quarterly and includes the cabinet member for civic pride Cllr Dev Sharma, borough commander Det Ch Supt Sue Williams, and members of voluntary organisations in the borough representing different demographic groups such as old and young people and neighbourhood watch groups.


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