The British Youth Council today calls on all 18-24-year-olds to make their mark in polling booths across the country, as they seek to mobilise more young voters than previous elections, following attempts across the youth sector to get politicians to make firm commitments to young people ahead of the General Election.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “A huge amount is at stake in this General Election. Not only will the next Government decide on our domestic policies they will steer our exit from the European Union. Young people do care about politics but there’s no better way to show it than turning up! Your vote really does matter, use it!”
Young voters have until 10pm to vote and if you’re still undecided whether to vote – check out what the political parties had to say in response to our six demands.
Anna went on to say: “To raise the profile of the issues we care about and to demand they’re addressed, we must show up!”
Tomorrow the British Youth Council will be reminding the new Government to keep their promises to young people – especially those relating the six priority issues set out in our General Election Manifesto; “16: a new for democracy”, “Our minds matter, “Living wage for everyone”, “Save our youth services”, “Teach first aid in schools” and “Brexit negotiations”.
The British Youth Council is looking for people aged 16-25 who are motivated by a belief in the work of the British Youth Council to achieve our vision of the world where all young people are respected and able to influence and inform decisions that affect their lives or on which they have strong opinions.
The British Youth Council really is governed by young people for young people. Our board of trustees is made up of 13 people elected by delegates from our members. The board not only sets the strategic direction of the organisation, monitors progress, they shape our activities, and act as ambassadors and spokespeople for the British Youth Council in the media and elsewhere.
While your first goal as a trustee is to serve your peers and the British Youth Council, it is also a way to build your experience and networks, develop a broad range of skills and help shape the future of a world where all young people have a say and are heard.
We would encourage all ages to apply bringing both representations of those we serve alongside experience of governance. The British Youth Council needs a diverse, inclusive spread of ages and talents.
The deadline for applications is Tuesday 4th July 2017 at 12 noon, so be quick!
Political parties have responded to the British Youth Council’s vision for a better country. The manifesto ‘Our Vision, Our Parliament’, which was published last week, outlines the key issues young people across the UK are demanding answers on.
The publication of the manifesto forms part of the British Youth Council’s attempts to get political parties to make firm commitments to young people. Within the manifesto we call on the next Government to address the issues that matter to young people. Young people want better mental health provision for young people and among other issues want an opportunity to influence Brexit negotiations.
The responses we have received have been published to support young people who may be undecided or unaware of each party’s position. Some political parties had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. In those cases, we have sourced information from their 2017 General Election manifesto.
The British Youth Council is launching ‘Our Vision, Our Parliament’, a manifesto which outlines our vision for the next Parliament. The manifesto sets out the six priorities that we want the next government to address the issues of young people including better mental health provision for young people and an opportunity for young people to influence Brexit negotiations.
Young people want the voting age to be lowered to 16, mental health services for young people to be improved, the introduction of a real living wage for everyone, the restoration of funding for youth services, first aid taught in schools and the opportunity to actively participate and meaningfully engage in the Brexit negotiations.
The British Youth Council has written to 17 political parties – including the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, SNP and Labour. Each party has been asked to respond with their thoughts on our top six issues. All responses will be published ahead of polling day on June 8th.
The manifesto forms part of our wider General Election campaign calling on politicians to not just talk about young people but to listen to their concerns and do something about them. Following the General Election, the British Youth Council will be lobbying the Government and calling on politicians to keep their promises to young people.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s imperative that candidates across the country listen to the issues that young people are passionate about and tell young people what they plan to do about their priorities. I’m really looking forward to hearing back from each political party so we can share their responses with young people.”
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee today (Friday 19th May 2017) announces a new inquiry into body image. The Committee is calling for evidence from a wide range of witnesses, including organisations and interested parties, as well as young people who have been affected by body image issues.
The Youth Select Committee, now in its sixth year, is a British Youth Council initiative supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 14-18 and include Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. Body image was one of the top ten issues voted for by almost one million young people in UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot in 2016.
The committee will look at issues including:
- Does the Government have a responsibility to discourage the use of social media, the internet and communications platforms in ways which promote poor body image? What should it be doing in this regard?
- Do internet companies, social media platforms or other platforms have a responsibility to tackle trends which entrench poor body image? What are they already doing in this area? What more should they be doing?
- Are particular groups of young people particularly prone to poor body image, or less likely to seek help? What causes these trends?
- To what extent is dissatisfaction with body image contributing to the increase in mental health problems amongst children and young people?
Thomas Copeland, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “This year the Youth Select Committee will be examining Body Image. Body Image has become an issue of considerable concern for young people, so it is crucial that they are given a voice on this important subject. We are really looking forward to hearing what young people and professionals highlight as the key areas of potential policy improvement throughout the inquiry.”
The Committee’s call for evidence closes on 16th June 2017 and the Youth Select Committee will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons on 7th and 14th July 2017.
The Government have confirmed they have no plans to introduce a lowering voting age of 16 for the General Election which will take place on Thursday 8th June 2017. The British Youth Council are disappointed to learn that yet again 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds will be denied a vote.
In response to a petition calling for the voting age to be lowered, the Government states ‘the House of Commons has debated the question of lowering the voting age in a number of contexts, and has repeatedly voted against lowering it.’ Regrettably, 16 and 17-year-olds will not just miss out on the snap election, but will also miss out on the May elections which will see the election of six newly-created combined authority mayors.
Since the Scottish Independence Referendum, in which 16 and 17-year-olds were given a vote, young people have been turned away from casting their vote on eight separate occasions, without including the numerous by-elections. In 2014, 75% of 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland voted in the independence referendum, a vote that set a precedent and should serve as proof that when young people feel they have an authentic opportunity to influence change they will take part.
Over the past 14 years, the Votes at 16 Coalition have been tracking support for a lower voting age. Their research indicates all Members of Scottish Parliament in unanimous support, huge increases in support within the House of Lords and over 40% of Members of Parliament declaring their support for votes at 16. We’re hoping the common sense argument will prevail – alongside a ‘curriculum for life’ with citizenship/political education and easy voter registration, votes at 16 is not only good for the future of democracy but a necessary change.
Anna Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It’s disappointing that 16 and 17-year-olds will be denied a chance to vote in one of the most important elections of our lifetime. A precedent was set following the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, and yet eight elections later 16 and 17-year-olds across the UK still haven’t been entrusted with the vote.
“It is extremely regrettable that the common sense argument has not prevailed. When young people feel they have an authentic opportunity to influence change they will take part.”
Last week Members of Parliament backed the Prime Minster’s bid for a snap election on Thursday 8th June 2017. In an open letter sent to all political parties, organisations from across the youth sector are now calling on all party leaders to make a firm commitment to young people across the country.
The open letter, which is signed by the British Youth Council and other leading youth organisations, requests party leaders make an explicit commitment to represent young people’s demands in their upcoming manifestos. At a time when Parliament will be shaping a post-Brexit Britain, young people’s overwhelming demand to be part of the political process must be acted upon.
The joint letter comes following our initial call to politicians last week which demanded politicians talked to young people and not about them.
— ITV News (@itvnews) April 26, 2017
The Prime Minster has announced her proposal for an early General Election. The election is due to take place on Thursday 8th June 2017, however, Members of Parliament will vote on the proposal in the House of Commons on Wednesday 19th April 2017. In response, the British Youth Council calls on parties and politicians across the country to talk to young people not about them.
Young people are passionate about the future and must be given an authentic opportunity to have a say, influence the debate and set out their priorities. The upcoming election will hold more importance than usual as political parties set out their plans for a ‘Post-Brexit Britain’ and young people must be included in that conversation.
We’ll be reminding parties to keep the promises they have made to young people – especially the five priority issues set out in our 2015 General Election Manifesto ‘Our Parliament. Our Vision’. The issues included improving mental health provision, saving youth services and creating a real living wage for everyone.
The June snap election will also mark yet another election in which 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds will be denied a vote. We call on all parties to ensure that all 16 and 17-year-olds of the future are no longer turned away from the ballot box.
The British Youth Council will be contacting the Government and the Electoral Commission to discuss voter registration for the General Election. We proudly supported sector-wide efforts to get young people registered to vote in the lead up to 2015 General Election and the EU Referendum in 2016. In the meantime, the British Youth Council is urging young people across the country to register to vote as soon as possible to ensure they can have a direct say in the direction of the country.
We are currently working with Parliament to establish how this will impact the Youth Select Committee inquiry on Body Image and the UK Youth Parliament which is due to sit in the House of Commons in November 2017. More details will be released in due course.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Politicians across the country must engage young people in a meaningful way ahead of the announced snap election. They have 7 weeks to convince young people that they can deliver on the issues that matter to them. Those who seek to represent us must talk to us and not about us.
“It is however of great concern to us that once again 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds will be denied a vote in an election. Political parties now have a real opportunity to ensure that this is an issue of the past. Empower young people and give them the voice they deserve.
“Lastly, I’d like to call on young people to register to vote, research the issues, and then turn out on June 8th! Young people will be greatly affected by the next Government’s decisions, particularly as our next Government will be tasked with negotiating how we leave the European Union. Let’s send a clear message to politicians in June!”
The British Youth Council hosted the Youth Voice Leadership Development Programme at the Kingswood Centre in Ashford, Kent. The three-day flagship leadership residential, which took place from Friday 7th April 2017 to Sunday 9th April 2017, brought together over 100 youth representatives from across the country. Youth representatives who attended the event were given the skills and support to become successful youth voice leaders in their community.
The weekend residential allowed youth representatives to share best practice; meet other young people in similarly elected posts, and equipped them with the skills to work on behalf of young people locally and nationally.
Existing youth representatives were challenged to build upon on their current knowledge and experience, whilst newly elected representatives were inducted into their roles. The events activities and discussions fused together in a rally to support the UK Youth Parliament’s national campaign ‘a Curriculum for life’. The campaign aims to see the place of citizenship education and PSHE in the curriculum radically overhauled. Last month, the Government announced it was preparing to introduce legislation that will see every child taught sex education in school.
The residential marks the beginning of a year-long term of office for many youth representatives. During the event, youth representatives were encouraged to create pledges for the year ahead. Over the weekend our film crew also began capturing a documentary which will follow the journey of youth representatives throughout the year.
The British Youth Council and YMCA England have taken the decision to postpone this evening’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs due to take place on the Parliamentary estate due to an ongoing police incident at Parliament.
Young people who have made their way to the event are welcome to attend the British Youth Council’s office, CAN Mezzanine, 49-51 East Road, London, N1 6AH.
If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact the head office on 0207 250 8374.
We will be in touch to arrange a new date for the next meeting.