CELEBRATING 70 YEARS

The British Youth Council has been working to bring about social and political change for 70 years.

In 2018, we will not only celebrate the stories of those who have been part of the youth voice movement, we’ll also celebrate the young people who continue to champion our vision for a better world.

During our anniversary the British Youth Council will announce it’s new vision for an environment in which young people views are valued, sought and acted upon. Moving forward the British Youth Council will continue its efforts to amplify young people’s voices among decision makers in the UK and internationally.

Memory Logs

As part of our celebrations, we want to hear from you! By collecting stories from our alumni, past members of staff and members of our wider community, we hope to bring together a wonderful collection of memories about the British Youth Council from the past 70 years for both current and past members to enjoy.

Click on the names below to read individual memory logs from throughout our history!

Why not submit yours by emailing fundraising@byc.org.uk?

When were you involved with the British Youth Council?

I was a member of BYC from 1982- 1986 as part of the Scout delegate. I came into the British Youth Council while at the University of Bristol, volunteering as a Cub Scout Leader in order to fulfil the service requirement of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. At that time, the Scouts weren’t seen to work particularly well in diversity, and so the fact that I (as a young person) was volunteering in an area of Bristol where there was social deprivation brought me to the attention of Scout HQ.  This, in turn, led to the Scouts inviting me to join their BYC delegation.

Stand out key memories

The British Youth Council provided me with my first taste of campaigning, introduced me to politics, and was the crucible for my now lifelong commitment to social justice. My years with the Scout Delegation in the 80s were exciting, enlightening and utterly inspirational.

The British Youth Council provided a space to come into contact with other organisations  – unlike the university political platform.  BYC felt like a more comfortable fit due to being more diverse. It provided a wider range of people in social action and allowed young people to develop their own views and values in a space that was forgiving of change and experimentation.

What do you think you’ve gained from being involved with the British Youth Council?

The British Youth Council was important to young people at the time as it gave us a voice within a society that wasn’t particularly interested. It provided a fantastic opportunity for training in the youth agenda that shaped my work later on.

The British Youth Council provided diversity and a range of experiences. It opened up in me a desire for social justice that has followed throughout my career.

When were you involved with the British Youth Council?

I worked for the British Youth Council between 1970 and 1972 but I knew about the organisation before, through my local work with young people.

I learnt about young people’s voice by leading a local youth club in Bushey (Hertfordshire) every Saturday night (yes, Saturdays!) and through my local youth council.   Around 1969, (I was very young!) my job in London was with Thomas Cook the travel agents.  As part of my work I arranged travel for organisations and one of those happened to be the British Youth Council.

Alan Robertshaw was the Secretary General of BYC at the time and they got to know me while I was arranging their travel, mostly in Europe, but sometimes further afield.  Alan invited me to an interview for the admin assistant role and I got the job!  That was just the opportunity I wanted!

Stand-out memories and experiences

In 1972 I helped to organise the World Assembly of Youth in Manchester.  The WAY was a week-long conference with a prestigious dinner and national delegates from all parts of the world. Edward Heath, the then Prime Minister was the main speaker at the conference dinner and I was introduced to him, as were many others.  For the conference, I was proud to be the Personal Assistant to Jyoti Singh, the Secretary General of WAY.  Being a PA was good fun and opened my eyes to lots of international links, debates, issues and developments.

A few other memories from BYC work  .....  I led a study visit to Berlin for UK students, I helped to set up emergency accommodation in London for young people, managed a temporary hostel in Glastonbury in the very early years of the international Festival, and I was usually the first in the BYC office every morning, so I got the cream from the top of the milk for my first cup of coffee!

Between 1971 and 1975 I helped to set up the National Youth Assembly (NYA), which was the forerunner of the UK Youth Parliament. In those early years, we brought people together from youth councils all over England and we organised meetings, events, conferences and elections. We represented young people’s views, as best we could, to government and many other organisations.  We helped young people learn about democracy and how it works, both at a local level and nationally, and we showed how we can collectively make a difference.  The NYA Executive Committee and many others travelled all over England and worked with hundreds of young people directly who then went onto work with thousands more through their local youth councils and other organisations.

What do you think you’ve gained from being involved with the British Youth Council?

A career!    It’s a fact.    Not only a career but you can see loads of other things that have happened for me and for my family that have come from my roles with the British Youth Council. Through my work for BYC, I learnt that I could play a valuable role in youth work and in the wider scheme of things for young people, local and national communities.

My work for BYC built up my confidence.  I learned loads. It took me onto the next steps in my life. There’s no question that BYC experiences led to many new and exciting opportunities.  I learnt about the potential of democracy, of young people, of charities and of national organisations.

A few reflections

BYC is a tremendous force for good in the UK.  BYC creates amazing opportunities for young people to get involved in expressing their views, learning how to influence things, and learning what to say, and what not to say!

BYC has been around for 70 years and I know that it has had a positive impact on many thousands of young people through direct involvement, and, I’m sure it has had a very beneficial impact on many millions of young people because of what BYC has done in those years and what BYC does now!

BYC was set up after the Second World War to promote the voice of young people AND internationalism. The original vision is being delivered every day in the UK, and BYC can continue doing that for the next 70 years, and more.

When were you involved with the British Youth Council?
Since 2011.

Stand out key memories
Annual debates in the House of Commons were the showpiece occasions, but I most enjoyed chairing the UK Youth Parliament West Midlands Region. It was a great platform from which I could lead negotiations with my local council.

What do you think you’ve gained from being involved with the British Youth Council?
How to ask for things in ways that are constructive and make a positive difference to the lives of others facing the same issues.

We'll be celebrating throughout the year.

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