CHILDREN from across the borough were invited to a special meeting with the mayor where they petitioned for better services for young people in the area.

The six secondary school aged youngsters gathered in the council chamber last Monday, presenting a heavily researched talk on the experiences young people with special educational needs and mental health issues face.

Mayor of Barnsley Mick Stowe presided over the chamber, explaining the process of the council to the young people before handing them the floor.

Scarlett Irvine, 14, told the Chronicle ahead of the meeting: “I’m feeling chill, I can gabble easily.

“Young voices are not heard so I want to make sure they’re heard more.

“I’m talking about SEND (special educational needs) issues - I’ve got friends who have gone through that and I want to see more accessible support.

“We’ve done lots of research to get the presentation ready for today.

“The big thing for me is to stop kids getting told off for little things like playing with their pens.”

Split into two groups, representing the Central and North East wards, the children - who were supported by the Youth Association charity - led their presentations.

Youngsters from the Central ward focused on special educational needs and inability to access key resources like fidget toys and coloured overlays, while those from North East discussed mental health and bullying, and how in their experiences schools had not adequately responded to their issues.

Their presentation included an animation - made in association with Barnsley College - and a clip from a work in progress podcast, and allowed students to share their experience at schools, as they fight against the stigma of being called a ‘naughty kid’ due to their neurodivergence.

The children then asked for a pledge from the mayor to push for additional resources and support for children with special educational needs in school.

The mayor along with councillors and council officers in attendance responded well, and gave advice on what these children can do to further their endeavours.

After the meeting mayor Mick Stowe said: “What a brilliant event.

“The young people carried out the research and presented their findings in a very positive manner. Discussion highlighted that we need to develop a policy of support for our young people.”