The law says you have to be at least 18 years old to stand for the States.
And that’s it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 78. What matters is that you are prepared to commit the next four years (or more) to serving your Island. Check that you meet the technical requirements for being a Deputy – you have to have lived here for a certain time, and you have to be on the Electoral roll: it’s all on the Election website – and then go for it!
We have seen some fantastic youth leadership in this term alone: last year’s #YouthAction4Climate protests demanded much greater action and accountability from the States on climate change. That led to a commitment from the States to develop a Climate Change Action Plan, which will be debated before the end of this term – although it will need committed people to see it through during the next term.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Youth Forum from time to time – a group of thoughtful, highly capable teenagers from across the Bailiwick’s schools and youth groups, who have engaged fully with important local and international issues, and who have helped to shape the agenda on everything from food waste to mental health and wellbeing. And most recently, I’ve been delighted by the emergence of Guerns Against Discrimination – a youth-led movement who helped to champion the adoption of Guernsey’s long-overdue non-discrimination laws.
You’re never too young to make a difference. And I think you could be great.
I think that bringing the right attitude, a respect for others, and a willingness to learn is far more important than having a certain amount of ‘life experience’. And I think it’s important to challenge the assumption that age and life experience are neatly linked. You will meet older people who have led relatively sheltered lives, and you’ll meet younger people who’ve lived through really difficult things and had to grow up fast. You can be mature (or immature) at any age.
I found my early twenties really hard. I had grown up deeply religious, and had gradually realised I didn’t believe any of it any more – so I was trying to come to grips with myself and my values more or less from scratch, without the religious framework which had shaped my life til then. Add in the question of sexuality, and the whole thing was an emotional and psychological rollercoaster! I would not have been a good young Deputy; I needed a few more years. But that just happened to be the time in my life when a lot of big things happened. Some people are far more certain in themselves at 20 – far more ready for this kind of work than I would have been. And some people find themselves facing crises or tragedies at 50 which utterly uproot and change them. There’s no right time to do this, no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to do what’s right for you.