STIRLING young people are being urged to make a difference in their area by becoming a community councillor.

The call comes from Jamie Grant, 23, and Kathleen Szwebs, 18, who have both been involved with Mercat Cross Community Council and found representing their area a rewarding experience.

Jamie, originally from Fife, came to the city to study politics at the university and quickly got involved in the community council.

He said: “At Stirling Students’ Union I represented the views of a vast and diverse community of students and I was looking at ways, in my first year, to enhance links with the city.

“I knew the student community, the university and the local population had different needs and expectations and I thought I could play a role in improving those relations.

“One of the ways I thought I could do that was by joining my community council. I got a leaflet through the door saying there were elections on.

“I voted in them and then I went along to the meetings for two or three months, they asked if I wanted to be co-opted on, and I said yes.

“A few months later, I was elected secretary and at the AGM I took a step back due to other commitments but I’m still a community councillor and excited what it will achieve.

“To any young people, I would say, go along and give it time. Your first couple of meetings may seem a bit alien as young people don’t typically don’t get exposed to that kind of environment.

“The people around the table value my opinion and I’ve never felt patronised or put down and all the stereotypes of young people going into something like this with no experience haven’t been true.”

Kathleen, who is from the local area, joined the community council at 16, the youngest she could.

She is now a student in Glasgow and explained: “Having done it for two years, I would definitely recommend it.

“I have lived up at the top of the town for all of my life and I have always been quite politically aware.

“I was involved with the youth parliament for a bit and they raised the awareness for the lack of youth participation, particularly in local politics.

“I found the opportunity to join the community council and I thought it would be good to a get a youth perspective on it as normally it’s not attended by young people.

“It’s supposed to be representative so I thought it would be good to have a young person on it so people in the town felt like they had a voice.

“Community councils have a reputation for being for older people but since joining, I haven’t found it intimidating.

“There is no age-barrier in a community council and it would be great to get more young people in, ridding it of that stigma attached to community councils in Stirling and Scotland.”

Nomination forms for this year’s community council elections are due on Friday, October 19.