Photo: Ants Vaer

Helsinki Youth Council regularly to attend division committee meetings

The experiment to include Helsinki Youth Council representatives at division committee meetings ended in late May 2019. As the experiment was positively received, Youth Council representatives will continue to attend committee meetings on a regular basis.

As in the experiment, which ran through the spring season 2019, Youth Council representatives will have a right to attend and to speak at committee meetings from here on. The experiment achieved the objectives set for the experiment, which were to increase youth participation and understanding of municipal decision-making processes. According to the views of elected officials, young people and office holders, Youth Council representatives presented new viewpoints to the work of committees, as well as well argued and valid comments.

The Helsinki City Board has approved a procedure according to which the Youth Council elects three representatives from among Council members for each division committee. One representative at a time should attend a committee meeting, and attendance should rotate among the representatives as evenly as possibly. Committee members serve as patrons to Youth Council representatives, supporting the committee work of the representatives.

Successful experiment extending over spring season 2019

The Helsinki City Executive Group decided in the autumn of 2018 to initiate an experiment lasting for the spring season 2019 to give representatives of the Helsinki Youth Council a right to attend and to speak at the meetings of the committees of the City of Helsinki divisions. The experiment started at the beginning of February, and Youth Council representatives attended the meetings of all four committees during the spring season. The experiment sought to improve the hearing and engagement of young people as well as to strengthen the Youth Council’s opportunities for participation and exerting influence. The right to attend and to speak at committee meetings did not include a right to make or support proposals and to vote.

Youth Council representatives addressed committees about 50 times during the spring season in matters concerning young people. Their statements dealt with the prevention of young people’s social exclusion and loneliness, support for leisure activities of children and youth, and public spaces.

The results of the experiment were evaluated at a meeting of elected officials and young people on 11 June. Youth Council representatives in the experiment were acknowledged for their preparedness for committee meetings, their familiarity with meeting agendas and to-the-point statements. Youth Council representatives expressed their gratitude for the trust bestowed in them and a wish that youth representation at committee meetings should be continued as a regular activity.

The results of the experiment were evaluated with an online survey taken by 45 persons. 90 percent of young people considered the experiment to be highly successful. 82 percent of elected officials and 95 percent of City representatives considered the experiment to be either highly successful or fairly successful.

No survey respondent considered the outcome of the Youth Council attendance at committee meetings to be fairly poor or very poor. Areas for improvement suggested included familiarization of young people and various representation models. Furthermore, it was suggested that young people and the Youth Council could impact decisions more efficiently if they were heard earlier in the decision-making process, that is, at the decision-preparation stage.

Pictured above are the Helsinki Youth Council representatives who attended division committee meetings: (from left) Elo Umukoro, Jim Koskinen, Tilda Lassila, Sigrid Autio, Vivian Ljungqvist, Alma Rantalaiho and Dan Cederlöf. Back row: patrons for Youth Council representatives Hannu Tuominen (left), Tapio Bergholm (right) and Deputy Mayor Sanna Vesikansa (centre). Photo Ants Vahter


Read more:

Evaluation of the attendance of Helsinki Youth Council representatives at division committee meetings during spring season 2019 (report in Finnish)

Helsinki Youth Council

Related City Board proposal (in Finnish)