This week young people from across the UK will attend the Commonwealth Youth Forum as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place in London. Young people in attendance will discuss the solutions for a fairer, more secure, sustainable and prosperous future.
47 young representatives will gather with young people from across the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks, debate the challenges facing its young people, and agree on youth-led initiatives to influence decision makers and ensure young people have a voice in its future. During the Forum, young people will have the opportunity to current global challenges and opportunities that face young people in the Commonwealth and provide policy recommendations to help solve these issues.
Thrinayani Ramakrishnan, UK Young Ambassador to the Commonwealth who will attend as an official UK delegate said: “I’m really looking forward to joining delegates from across the Commonwealth to learn, develop ideas and share experiences.
“It’s imperative young people are involved in shaping the future of the Commonwealth.”
The three-day event has been organised by the UK Government and Commonwealth Secretariat with the support of the British Youth Council as the national youth council of the UK. The event is due to be opened by Anna Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council who will be joined by Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education, Kishiva Ambigathy, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council and Jayathma Wickramanayake, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Anna Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “I’m really looking forward to welcoming young people from across the Commonwealth to the Commonwealth Youth Forum. It’s absolutely right that young people are at the heart of shaping the future of the Commonwealth.”
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has received an official response from the Government about their report on body image and the impact it has on the well-being of children and young people. The Government have stated body dissatisfaction is an issue of enormous concern to young people and their parents.
The comprehensive response from the Government Equalities Office comes following the committee’s inquiry, which concluded body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. In the response, the Government acknowledges the gaps which remain in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction, including the specific challenges faced by young men, LGBT+ community, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities or serious illnesses.
The response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations, makes a commitment to further understand body image in specific groups as part of their broader endeavour to better understand the causes and impact of body dissatisfaction.
In November, the committee made it clear the Government needed to ensure young people, parents, and teachers knew where to go for support on body image. The Government has since pledged to undertake an audit of available resources.
Thomas Copeland, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee welcomes the Government’s response to the committee’s report ‘A Body Confident Future’.
“We are pleased to see the Government have not only recognised the importance of body image but have also acknowledged gaps in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction.
“The Government have made a number of commitments in their response, including a commitment to further understand how body dissatisfaction affects different groups. We look forward to seeing how the Government goes on to ensure their commitments are implemented as soon as possible. Young people’s mental health and well-being must be taken seriously if we are to mitigate the detrimental effects of body dissatisfaction.”
The conclusions of the report has since influenced the launch of a separate inquiry by the Science and Technology Select Committee into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. In response to the recommendations of the committee, NHS England has also been working with the NHS Youth Forum to raise awareness of body image through a new poster campaign.
Kath Evans, Experience of Care Lead for NHS England said “NHS England is delighted to have worked with the NHS Youth Forum to ensure a poster is developed to raise awareness about body image that can be displayed in a range of different settings as recommended by the Youth Select Committee inquiry.
“Young people themselves know what matters most to them and their peers, vitally they know how to capture the attention of other young people, they have led the way, demonstrating ongoing collaboration to keep improving experiences of care.”
The Youth Select Committee, who were aged 13-18, included Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. This year’s committee will investigate the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience.
As a part of the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the Commonwealth Youth Forum in London, young people from across the UK met the Prime Minister and Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth, this morning in celebration of Commonwealth Day. The reception, which took place at 10 Downing Street, was hosted by UK Young Ambassador to the Commonwealth, Namir Chowdhury.
During the reception, which was organised by the British Youth Council and the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of young people being “at the heart” of the summit. Young people present were able to ask Lord Ahmad a series of questions prior to joining Her Majesty the Queen and other distinguished guests for the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. Issues including deepening the relationship with Commonwealth nations, expanding young people’s understanding of the Commonwealth and LGBT+ rights were discussed.
Representatives from Children in Wales, Girlguiding, The Scout Association, UK Youth Parliament, National Union of Students (NUS), Northern Ireland Youth Forum and National Citizen Service were present at the celebration.
Namir Chowdhury, UK Young Ambassador to the Commonwealth said “It has been a pleasure to mark Commonwealth Day alongside the Prime Minister. It really is imperative that we work together to forge a future that is prosperous for young people across the Commonwealth.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting young people from across the nations at the Commonwealth Youth Forum. It will be interesting to hear a wide range of views ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.”
The Commonwealth Youth Forum is held as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). This year will be hosted by the UK government, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the British Youth Council as the national youth council of the UK.
The Forum will bring together young people from across the Commonwealth to exchange ideas and share their experiences, build their networks and skills. During the event, delegates will discuss current global challenges and opportunities that face young people in the Commonwealth and provide policy recommendations to help solve these issues.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will explore the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience in its next inquiry. The new committee of eleven young people, which is yet to be appointed, will embark on the inquiry later this year. Access to work experience was voted in the top three issues by young people in the Make Your Mark ballot, the largest annual consultation of young people in the UK.
The announcement comes as YouGov’s latest poll reveals over two-thirds of young people (71 per cent) are expecting it to be tougher to find a job in 2030 with 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds citing a lack of work experience as a barrier.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said “It comes as no surprise to us that young people have declared employment a top concern of theirs. With the uncertainty created by Brexit, a failure to install a real living wage for young people and ongoing concerns about work experience, it is clear that young people need meaningful commitments from decision makers to tackle all of these issues.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s Youth Select Committee finds during its inquiry, and how the government responds to the recommendations.”
The Committee will set out the key areas for exploration prior to seeking written and oral evidence from the public. Work experience gives young people the opportunity to develop themselves, hobbies and potential career paths. However, young people have said that knowing where to find work experience can be a challenge.
Last year the Youth Select Committee examined body image and the impact it has on the well-being of children and young people. The Committee concluded that body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. The Government is due to respond to the committee remark and recommendations soon.
Would you be interested in joining the Youth Select Committee? Apply to join now.
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition welcome growing support from within the Conservative Party for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17 year olds. With former front bench Minsters Nicky Morgan MP and Justine Greening MP joining votes at 16 supporter, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, it is clear the tide is turning.
Support for a lower voting age has increased over the last 19 years with politicians from across the political spectrum announcing their support for a lower voting age. 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections and are due to get a vote in the Welsh local elections, making it harder to deny an extension to the franchise in all elections. Yesterday, Rochdale Council joined the growing number of local authorities also declaring their support.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “Young people have been calling for a lowering voting age for a long time and it’s about time they were heard. Cross-party support has been growing and is great to see Conservative politicians vocalising their support. The tide is turning.
“With votes at 16 in Scotland, and Wales following close behind, it seems ludicrous for 16 and 17 year olds to be denied a vote in other elections. We must have parity across the UK.”
UK Youth Parliament recently renewed their efforts to drum up support for votes at 16 across the country. Votes at 16 has been a long-standing campaign for Members of Youth Parliament with the issue topping the youth agenda on four occasions since 2011 in the Make Your Mark ballot.
Alaa Fawaz, aged 16, Member of Youth Parliament for Slough who has recently spoken to the Prime Minister about votes at 16 said: “I think it is sad that the Government is resisting a lower voting age. I hope we are able to change the minds of those in Government so 16 and 17 year olds can have their say in a meaningful way.
“Young people are more engaged than ever before and it’s imperative that 16 and 17 year olds are entrusted with the vote now!”
New figures suggest the Government may not have a majority on the issue in the Commons, reaping new hope for Peter Kyle MP’s Private Members Bill which is due to be debated in the chamber in May.
Earlier this evening, Jordhi Nullatamby, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock joined the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at Parliament to mark 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed the first women, and all men, to vote for the first time. During the event, Nullatamby addressed guests in Westminster Hall 100 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed, kicking off a year-long series of events and exhibitions commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.
The event, which officially launched UK Parliament’s Vote 100 campaign, was the largest gathering of the UK’s women politicians ever organised. Past and present female Members of Parliament attended the event to celebrate the pioneering women and men who fought for the right to vote, as well as the contribution of women to politics in the UK.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon the Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords and Prime Minister, Theresa May, all praised the contributions UK Youth Parliament had made to public life in the UK.
Jordhi Nullatamby, 17, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock said in her address to the Vote 100 Launch:
“Before I came here this evening I was asked why the Representation of the People Act mattered to me. Why are we celebrating its centenary? The simple answer is that without it, I, a young woman, would not be here speaking to you tonight. So many other young women throughout the last one hundred years would never have voted or had a say in the government of themselves and their country. The woman Members of Parliament, Peers and Prime Minister gathered here in celebration tonight, and all of those women who preceded them, would not be here either.
“But it’s important to remember that the Representation of the People Act, given royal assent one hundred years ago today, only allowed some women over 30 and all men over 21 to vote. Despite the journey of strife taken by passionate, principled and determined women, it was only the first step in an even longer journey to equality. It took another 10 years for women to win the same voting rights as men, and still today we face inequality at every turn. The journey is not yet complete, the vision not yet realised.
“As I mentioned, I am privileged to serve as a member of the Youth Parliament. Every year we take over the House of Commons Chamber and debate the most important issues for young people across the UK. When we sit on those famed green benches we paint a more colourful, vibrant and diverse picture than when the House of Commons itself sits. Over half of MYPs are women, versus only one third of MPs. Thirty seven percent of our MYPs are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, versus only seven percent of MPs. It is my hope that one day in the near future I will vote in a general election that returns a House of Commons as diverse as our Youth Parliament.
“As I said, the journey is not complete, but we are getting there. This Parliament has the highest number of women to date, all of them doing fantastic work to represent women of all backgrounds. And maybe one day, I too will sit alongside them on those green benches.
“Let this year of celebrations inspire us to carry on campaigning, and carry on fighting for a better and more equal world for the women who follow us, just as those suffrage campaigners of 1918 fought to create a better world for us today.”
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this day one of the most important milestones in British democratic history. Opening this event as the UK’s second female Prime Minister, Mrs May reflected on the enormous progress that has been made, but also on the vital campaigning work that continues today.
UK Youth Parliament represents the changing face of modern Britain. 52% of the Members of the Youth Parliament are female and 32% are from a Black and Minority Ethnic background.
On Tuesday 6th February 2018, Jordhi Nullatamby, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock will join the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at Parliament to mark 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed the first women, and all men, to vote for the first time. During the event, Nullatamby will address guests in Westminster Hall 100 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed, kicking off a year-long series of events and exhibitions commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.
The event, which will officially launch the UK Parliament’s Vote 100 campaign, is expected to be the largest gathering of the UK’s women politicians ever organised. All female Members of Parliament past and present have been invited to celebrate the pioneering women and men who fought for the right to vote, as well as the contribution of women to politics in the UK.
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this day one of the most important milestones in British democratic history. Opening this event as the UK’s second female Prime Minister, Mrs May will reflect on the enormous progress that has been made, but also on the vital campaigning work that continues today.
Jordhi Nullatamby, 17, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock who will compère the event, said: “The Representation of the People Act 1918 was a vital step towards the rights women have today, and the centenary of the Act is an incredibly important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, thanks to the extreme bravery and sacrifice of the women who fought – and in some cases died – for equality.
“Nevertheless, the job is not yet complete. The fight for equality continues, and we must continue to campaign for legislation which ensures equal opportunities for all people. Hopefully, in the next 100 years, we will again be able to look back and celebrate the amazing strides we have made towards an even more equal society.”
Speaking ahead of the launch the Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “I look forward to joining hundreds of female Parliamentarians, past and present, to celebrate this very special anniversary.
“I’m proud to say we have more women and more ethnic minority MPs in government than ever before – proving that we are committed to looking more like the country we serve.
“Everyone attending tonight will be there because of the heroic, tireless struggle of those who came before us. As well as remembering and giving thanks to those who came before us, we must also look at what more we can do to ensure everyone in the United Kingdom, regardless of background, has the freedom to play a full and active role in public life.”
UK Youth Parliament widely represents the changing face of modern Britain. 52% of the Members of the Youth Parliament are female and 32% are from a Black and Minority Ethnic background.
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are delighted to learn that 16 and 17 year olds living in Wales will be able to participate in local elections. The British Youth Council are renewing their efforts to convince the UK Government to lower the voting age in all elections.
The announcement comes following 19 years of campaigning for 16 and 17 year olds to be enfranchised in all elections and referenda in the UK. Members of Parliament, Peers and local authorities continue to come out in support for a lowering voting age; with 8 local authorities declaring their support for the campaign in the past 3 months.
16 and 17 year olds in Scotland had the chance to vote in the Scottish Referendum, voted in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections and we are now due to see the same in the Welsh local elections. Extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds in selected parts of the UK and not others creates inequality and could drive an additional wedge between the devolved nations.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s getting increasingly hard for the Government to continue to deny 16 and 17 year olds a chance to vote in all elections and referenda. It seems ludicrous to oppose a lower voting age when 16 and 17 year olds already vote in local elections in Scotland and are due to vote in Wales.
“1.5 million young people were denied a vote in the EU Referendum and last year’s snap election – it’s now imperative that we have parity across the UK”
The Government have repeatedly shot down efforts to enfranchise 16 and 17 year olds, making it clear it is not in favour of a lowering voting age. However, mounting support and evidence in favour of electoral changes mean it’s becoming increasingly hard to deny young people their right to vote.
UK Youth Parliament has commenced its year-long campaign for a lower voting age and a curriculum that prepares young people for life. The campaigns commence following the last summer’s Make Your Mark ballot and a subsequent vote by Members of Youth Parliament at the House of Commons Sitting in November.
Votes at 16 and a ‘Curriculum for Life’ are longstanding priorities for young people within the UK. In the last 5 years, young people have declared the issues a priority and campaigned on them repeatedly. Members of Youth Parliament have acknowledged that there is still much work to be done for both campaigns but recognised their actions are making a difference.
Ayesha Khan, aged 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Peterborough said “We’ve made the case for enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds time and time again and the case for it remains strong. 1.5 million young people are being denied a vote in elections. This year we’ll continue to our efforts to convince decision makers this must change!
“The case for a curriculum for life has also been made repeatedly. We want PSHE to address all the topics that will allow young people to actively participate in life! It’s imperative that time is set aside in our timetables – it can’t just be a filler or a random session, it should go alongside academic subject lessons to ensure enough importance is being placed on those skills that are truly indispensable.”
Members of Youth Parliament will be working throughout the year to widen support for each issue. They’ll host events in schools and colleges, take collective action at a regional level and lobby decision makers. Any young person who resonates with the issue can take part in campaign activities alongside Members of Youth Parliament.
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has launched a new report, ‘Life in Likes’, on the impact of social media on the lives of children before they become teenagers. Today’s report reveals many children are approaching a ‘cliff edge’ as they transition from primary to secondary school, with social media becoming much more important in their lives but causing them greater anxiety. The study suggests some children are becoming almost addicted to ‘likes’ as a form of social validation that makes them happy and that many are increasingly anxious about their online image and ‘keeping up appearances’.
The British Youth Council welcome the report and its recommendations which echo the Youth Select Committee report launched in November 2017 on young people and body image. ‘A Body Confident Future’ was published following an inquiry which gathered evidence from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, social media companies, and health and education professionals.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “We welcome the research undertaken by the Children’s Commissioner into the impact of social media on children. Our own research through the Youth Select Committee highlighted that body dissatisfaction is the norm amongst young people in the UK. Social media can have both positive and negative impacts on body image, and whilst social media companies have taken some steps to mitigate the negative effects there is still more that can be done.
“It is good to see that the recommendations outlined in ‘Life in Likes’ reinforce the recommendations from the Youth Select Committee, specifically in calling for increased digital and media literacy within formal education, more support for teachers to understand the impact of social media on well being, and for social media companies to take more responsibility for the content on their platforms. We hope that this reinforces the need for action to protect children and young people.”
The Youth Select Committee report recommendations have been submitted to the Government for response, which is expected within the next few weeks.