A leading youth voice advocate has been celebrated at a special event attended by Somerset Council staff and councillors.  

18-year-old Josh Lancaster from Somerset was honoured for his outstanding contribution to youth advocacy at an event in County Hall, Taunton.

Held on February 16, Josh was celebrated for his role as deputy member of youth parliament (MYP).

Attendees heard about Josh’s contribution to a number of youth advocacy groups in the county, including the Unstoppables, a group for young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged between 13-25.

Guests, including Somerset Council Leader Bill Revans, Chief Executive Duncan Sharkey, and Executive Director for Children, Families and Education Claire Winter.

They heard how Josh has helped young people - including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) - have a voice to help make a difference to the services they use and to tackle any issues they may face.  

They also heard about Josh's involvement in the interview process for the Chief Executive role at Somerset Council, and his contribution to a variety of films and animations for youth culture on drugs and alcohol for the Somerset Drugs and Alcohol Service (SDAS).

Speaking at the event, Sian Smiley, Engagement and Participation Officer, said: “We were delighted to host this event to acknowledge and celebrate Josh’s outstanding achievements in public service.

"It’s absolutely vital that we design our services not only for, but also with the young people we support, and we couldn’t do that without the involvement of people like Josh."