The NAASA youth group at Newton Aycliffe Youth and Community Centre were joined by Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, for pizza and to discuss the importance of voting.
In total 30 young people attended the session, to listen to Mr Wilson discuss the importance of registering to vote and how laws in the UK are made.
The Newton Aycliffe and Shildon Alive Friday evening youth group attracts those in their teens up to 19 years old, which means some of those who attended could cast their first vote in the EU referendum this June.
But this government has made it harder for those young people to have their voice heard.
The rushing through of individual voter registration, a year earlier than planned, has stripped the ability to vote in local and national elections from hundreds of thousands of people.
According to a study by the Electoral Commission, 770,000 names were removed from the register when the transition period to individual voter registration ended, with those affected mainly young people or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Phil Wilson however, has made it clear that he will work hard to ensure young people in his constituency are not denied a voice.
He said “It is disgraceful that this government is making it harder for young people to express their opinion in the voting booth. Young people are the future of our country. Yet they are disproportionately affected by government cuts and deserve to have their voice heard.”
The current Tory government continues to hit young people the hardest. Maintenance grants for the poorest students have been scrapped, tuition fees have trebled, the number of young people owning their own homes is at its lowest level since record began, and those under 25 will not benefit to the rise in the national minimum wage.
In addition, 853,000 young people are not in employment, education, or training.
During his session with the young people at NAASA teens, Mr Wilson heard about their concerns and answered numerous questions on a range of issues, with one teen quizzing the MP on changes regarding e-cigarette legislation.
Others told Phil how important the youth centre is to them, and expressed their concerns over potential changes to the youth service in County Durham, a direct result of the disproportionate cuts the Tory government is placing upon Durham County Council, with the toll of government austerity costing the council £290 million between 2010 and 2020.
Commenting on the session, Mr Wilson said “What evenings like this show is young people care about their communities, and want their voice to be heard. The teens and the staff at NAASA are a credit to the town and to the constituency.”
“I want young people to have their say, it is not about whether they vote for me, it is about enabling them to exercise their fundamental right to vote, regardless who it is for.”
Vince Crosby Chairman of the Board of Trustees said, “My Trustees are fully behind this of getting young people to become involved in the way they can understand how both laws are made and how to engage with the MP and I would like to thank Phil Wilson MP for taking the time out. The young people having previously met with the local Councillors are becoming more involved.”
After Mr Wilson has finished speaking, those aged 16 an over were able to register to vote.
Overall the evening was a great success, with 16 pizzas consumed, and more young people now on the electoral register, able to have their voice heard.