Southwark’s new Youth Parliament announced

3 August 2021

Forty-six candidates from across the borough have been appointed to Southwark’s new Youth Parliament, representing the borough’s biggest ever directly elected youth body. 
 
During election week (19 to 25 July), young people voted for Southwark’s first ever Youth Leader and Deputy Youth Leader, and representatives from Southwark secondary schools and community areas who will all serve a two-year term. 
 
Southwark Youth Parliament will be the voice of young people in the borough, empowering them to make positive changes and influence decisions that affect them. It will play a key role in overseeing the delivery of the council’s Youth New Deal, which launched in July to put the borough’s young people at the heart of decision-making and in control of their future as we recover from COVID-19. 
 
Young people also voted on the most important issues they wanted the new Youth Parliament to address. The priority issues are Black Lives Matter, knife crime and mental health. Council officers will work with Youth Parliament members, all aged between 14 and 19, to develop a plan for creating change based around these priorities, and involve them in decision-making at the council through regular meetings, workshops and events.
 
The new Youth Parliament, which builds on the old Youth Council, will formally convene for the first time in September.
 
Awele Benokwu is Southwark’s new Youth Leader and one of two representatives for Harris Girls’ Academy, East Dulwich. She feels passionately about helping young people to feel safe and connected within their community, with more youth clubs and opportunities available to them. She said:

“I am extremely honoured to be elected Southwark’s first ever Youth Leader. I am looking forward to making sure that young people’s voices are heard and actions are taken to deliver on the issues that impact us most. This role will enable me to have a platform where I can focus on youth unity, where I will seek to provide and not divide. I am prepared to make a positive change in Southwark for our future and I cannot wait to get to work with all the Youth Parliament members.”

Dreaon McDonald Simms is Southwark’s new Deputy Youth Leader and is one of two representatives for Camberwell. As part of his campaign, he hit the streets of Camberwell to ask residents what change they'd like to see. He said: “I am thrilled to be elected as Deputy Youth Leader and representative for Camberwell. I stood for election because I believe I can be a voice for the unheard. I don't want there to be any hierarchy in my relationship with Camberwell and the rest of Southwark. I am Dreaon - a student, a teen and just like many of you, a member of this fantastic community. I will ensure your voices are heard and positive change is made.”
 
Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, said: “Huge congratulations to Awele, Dreaon and our new Parliamentarians. I’m really excited to work with you all on the key issues that Southwark’s young people care about the most. Nobody knows better than young people what their lives are really like, especially amid the huge challenges posed by the pandemic. Through our new Youth Parliament, young people now have the opportunity to take control and shape decisions about their future.”
 
Cllr Jasmine Ali, Southwark’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “I’m so proud to welcome such a brilliant and diverse team of young people to our new Youth Parliament. You will all play a critical role. You’ll influence our policies. You’ll help design our services. You’ll help us make sure Southwark is a place where young people are seen, heard and supported to fulfil their potential. Southwark Youth Parliament is the cornerstone of our Youth New Deal, putting young people at the heart of decision-making.”
 
Find more information on Southwark Youth Parliament, including a full list of elected members,

Page last updated: 09 August 2021