Kingston Council crowned Young Local Authority of the Year

Winners, Grace Abel and Izzy Saunders

Two rising stars have earned Kingston Council the title of Young Local Authority 2017 after taking part in a national competition.

The competition aims to develop and recognise the skills of young people in the early stages of their local government careers. 

Grace Abel (24) and Izzy Saunders (24), impressed judges with their critical reasoning and exemplary communications skills. The pair excelled in each of the marked disciplines, fending off challenges from 26 local authority teams to claim the title for Kingston.

Hosted by the Young Programme, this year’s competition took place in Lancaster where teams of two were invited to introduce themselves and give an opening presentation on 'Pride of Place'. 

For the first of two marked elements, a pre-prepared argument about an issue of current interest or controversy, Grace and Izzy chose to discuss the disturbing impact of social media on young people’s lives and the importance of living in the real world rather than online.

Adjudicators described their work as quirky and well-crafted, “at once tender and angry, occasionally bordering on the lyrical, this piece offered an ironical contrast to the dismal world which it revealed to us.”

For their final assessment, the pair were asked to deliver a response to an on-the-spot question. With passion and logic, Grace and Izzy argued the case for carers receiving a pay rise, which sealed their victory. Judges commended them for their clear, confident speaking and “brilliant” engagement with the audience.

Upon hearing of Kingston’s success, Chief Executive, Charlie Adan, said:

“This is wonderful news and I congratulate Grace and Izzy on their fantastic achievement. They have done themselves and the borough proud.

“For sometime Grace and Izzy have been representing and supporting our younger colleagues and I’m delighted the judges have recognised in them, their tenacity, initiative and intellect - qualities we value at Kingston Council and aim to inspire in all.”

Grace and Izzy were singled out for praise during the Mayor's Announcements at the start of the recent Council meeting. 

Asked why they decided to enter the competition, Senior Policy and Partnership Officer, Grace Abel, said:

“We found out about the competition through our work with the council’s youth network and it seemed like a natural and fun thing to be involved with.

“It has been a fantastic learning opportunity, one which has really tested our writing, public speaking and team working skills.”

Business Support Officer, Izzy Saunders, added:

“We entered for the experience and it has definitely boosted my confidence, especially when it comes to public speaking. We put a lot of hard work in so it feels great that it paid off.”

Kingston Council offers a range of opportunities for young people. It runs an apprenticeship scheme and participates in The National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP), a two year graduate management scheme run by the Local Government Association (LGA).

More information about starting your career with Kingston Council can be found online.