|The World According To Kira — Teen Views On Life In Wigan
Talking Shop: (top) Wigan Council Chief Executive Joyce Redfearn discusses the future with competition winner Kira Harman, and (bottom) Kira receives her prize from Joyce Redfearn and Gerald Meehan.
Teenager Kira Harman isn't afraid to speak her mind when it comes to what she wants for the future of Wigan.
And this week she was able to tell the council's Chief Executive Joyce Redfearn all about it when the two went head-to-head at a special meeting.
The 17-year-old from Goose Green received a special invite to Ms Redfearn's office after winning first prize in a competition aimed at encouraging children and young people to tell the council what they think about life in Wigan.
St John Rigby A-level student Kira was one of hundreds of young people who filled in a questionnaire in the borough's youth newspaper The Linc.
The questions were designed to get young people's views on the things the government wants for every child. These include staying safe, making a positive contribution, enjoying and achieving, being healthy and economic well being.
The consultation exercise will contribute to the borough's Children and Young People's Plan.
Wigan's Deputy Director of Children and Young People's Services Gerald Meehan explained: "All local authorities and their partners are required to have a plan for children and young people in place by 2006. It will cover all the services available to young people locally and its target will be to improve quality of life issues and prospects for children and young people in our borough.
"As part of this it is absolutely vital that we get the views of our young people on what services they want and what they would like to see for the future."
Gerald added: "We were delighted with the response we received from the young people and it has given us a real idea of how we can plan future services."
All the completed questionnaires were entered into a prize draw and Kira's was the first one to be drawn out by Ms Redfearn.
Kira won £200 worth of shopping vouchers for her troubles and also got the opportunity to meet and chat with the chief. The pair spoke about Kira's education and how she plans to go on to study law at university and eventually train to be a solicitor.
They also swapped views on life in Wigan.Ms Redfearn said: "As a relative newcomer to Wigan myself I am still learning about the borough so it is great that young people like Kira are willing to come forward and share their views.
"As a council it is important we not only listen to people but act on their views and use this information to shape the services we provide to best suit the residents of the borough.
"We are grateful to all the young people who took part in this survey and hopefully we have proved that your views do matter."
While prize-winning points of view pundit Kira said: "A lot of people think that teenagers and children don't have opinions about such things or that we don't care but that's just not true. It's important that young people know what is going on and have a say in the decisions that affect their lives to help them plan for the future."
And what are Kira's immediate plans for the future?
"Now I've got the vouchers, it's time to go shopping!" she said.