THE new Young Leader for the Daventry area is hoping to challenge stereotypes and give teenagers a greater voice.
Joe Paterson, 16, from Newnham, was elected to represent Daventry district, and is also deputy leader for the county.
The scheme is run by Northamptonshire County Council to give people aged 11 to 18, a greater voice in local issues.
Joe, pictured, said: “My job is to listen to other young people’s views and take them forward to the council.
“Issues people have already been talking to me about include the revamping of the skate ramps in New Street, transport from the villages as we don’t get regular buses now.
“The state of Daventry’s shops is also an issue – the huge amount of charity shops, banks, estate agents, hairdressers, etc. Young people want to see shops that actually appeal to them.
“A lot of my constituents said they were unimpressed with the shopping facilities in Daventry – the huge amount of charity shops, banks and estate agents.
“One thing was post-16 transport to college. The county council put the charge up. I took them to task at a scrutiny meeting because they said they had ‘consulted’ but who would say yes to being charged more?
“I’m in Year 12 now at school and in a few weeks I’ve got my exams. After that I want to go around the secondary schools in the district and talk to all the young people I represent. There are different groups of young people, but I want to represent all their views.
“Tackling stereotypes of young people is my main aim. There’s some bad people out there, as there are for any group, but the majority of young people aren’t like that.”
As if to prove his point, Joe is involved in several different local and national groups.
He said: “I’m bisexual and when I came out I was bullied at school. Rather than give in I stood up in front of my school and did assemblies on bullying.
“I do work with Beat Bullying and the LGB Foundation in Manchester. I’ve been on Radio 5 Live and This Morning talking about bullying.
“I know that as a young person you can be heard and make a difference. I think I can help others make their voices heard too.
“I’m also part of Bring The Noise, a company run by young people which puts on music events in the area for young people, including the Phoenix Centre in Daventry.”
To get in touch with Joe, email firstname.lastname@example.org