Young people from Irvine Royal Academy tackled a raft of hard-hitting issues as they played host the latest Youth Cabinet meeting last week.

The morning session was the latest in a series of joint meetings involving North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet, senior officers, Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament and the Youth Council Executive.

Councillors and officials have been touring North Ayrshire schools to ensure the Council gives young people a say in how the local authority operates.

The sessions provide a unique opportunity for young people to take local policy makers to task and have lively discussions on the issues that matter the most to them.

Irvine Royal Academy pupils were given the chance to take part in round-the-table conversations with their guests, covering themes such as bullying, drug and alcohol education, their school environment and the upcoming Year of Young People.

The young people were then invited to put their questions to the policy makers and have them answered. The lively session explored issues such as zero hour contracts, the cost of public transport, mental health support and youth facilities.

Elected Members were then invited to sign up to the Children’s Parliament ‘Unfeartie’ campaign – reaffirming their commitment to make a difference to children’s lives and being unafraid to speak up for them.

Aaron McDonald, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Cunninghame South, was a panel member at the event. He said: “Joint Cabinet is a vital way for young people to express their views and get answers to the questions they want to ask.

“It shows our young people are some of the most engaged in the country as they spoke with passion and determination.”

Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “This was yet again another fantastic meeting with our young people, proving how valuable these joint sessions are.

“They engaged with us on a whole raft of hard hitting topics and issues and we enjoyed being able to discuss these with them face-to-face.

“The meeting gave a clear demonstration of why involving our young people in council business is so important.”

Councillor Shaun Macauley, North Ayrshire’s Youth Champion, said: “With the privilege of being Youth Champion, I’m well aware of how engaged and passionate our young people are here in North Ayrshire.

“And it’s thanks to events such as the Joint Cabinet that we get to showcase just how clued-up and capable they all are – and Tuesday’s session was no exception.

“The pupils discussed a whole variety of issues and challenged us on some of the decisions being made. It was extremely worthwhile and I hope they got as much from it as we did.”

The joint meeting was one in a series organised by the Council’s Youth Services Team as part of their ongoing work to encourage participation and citizenship. It allows pupils to learn more about how their local authority operates, while forming an important part of the Council’s approach to give young people a voice.

The meetings are held regularly in venues throughout North Ayrshire – the next one is due to be held at Garnock Academy.