The British Youth Council has announced that it will be campaigning to encourage young people to register to vote and turn-out in large numbers for the EU Referendum on 23rd June because “It’s our future too!”. Make sure you have a say in this historic referendum and register to vote.
Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The European Union affects all of our lives and love it or hate it you’ve gotta get involved. It’s our future too so let’s get registered, research the issues and turn out on June 23rd!”
We’ll be launching activities, resources and opportunities next week so watch this space.
In the meantime, we recomend you visit our partner ME&EU, who have created a one-stop-shop to encourage young voters in the UK to engage in EU affairs by creating an understanding of how Europe influences their daily lives and by connecting them to other young people interested to talk and share ideas on the referendum.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee today announces a call for evidence on racism and religious discrimination. The Committee will explore issues around awareness, prevention, education and services for young people (under 25) and is calling for evidence from a wide range of witnesses including individuals and organisations, service providers, researchers and campaigners. Evidence from young people is particularly welcome.
Now in its fifth year, the Youth Select Committee is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons, which takes evidence in public and has its proceedings televised and recorded in Hansard. The eleven committee members are aged 13-18 and include Members of UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor, reserved seats and representatives from each of the devolved nations. Previous inquiries have reported on Transport, Education, Votes at 16, and Mental Health.
Bronagh Hughes, 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “Racism and religious discrimination is an extremely important issue. Last year’s passionate UK Youth Parliament debate highlights that young people feel more must be done to tackle it. It’s important that young people engage with politics and as a Committee we are keen to hear what people have to say about this issue”.
The Committee’s call for written evidence closes at 12 noon on 7th June 2015 and the Youth Select Committee will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons in June and July 2015. Written evidence should be submitted via email email@example.com or via post to the Clerk of the Youth Select Committee, c/o The Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster Programme, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
Please contact the inquiry team on firstname.lastname@example.org
British Youth Council calls for equal voting rights at 16 in UK.
Young people aged 16 and 17 year olds will vote in Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections for the first time today (Thursday 5th May 2016). The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are celebrating the historical moment as a landmark in the campaign for Votes at 16, but calls on the Government in Westminster and other devolved nations to make this an equal right in all elections in the UK.
Lowering the voting age continues to be a priority for the British Youth Council and after over 20 years of campaigning for a lower voting age in all UK elections and referenda we’ll continue to call on politicians to restore equal parity of franchise for young people in others parts of the country.
Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Today we can celebrate a huge win for the thousands of 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland who will now have a chance to vote in Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections for the first time following the precedent set by the Scottish Referendum back in 2014. We’ll be continuing to call on politicians in every other part of the UK to ensure 16 and 17 year olds get a vote in all elections!”
Katie Burke MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament who are members of the Votes at 16 Coalition said: “Today is a historic day in Scotland, and a massive step in the realisation of young people’s rights. Our parliament has campaigned for Votes at 16 since our formation in 1999, and I am overjoyed that our voices have been heard here in Scotland. However, our fellow 16 and 17-year-olds throughout the UK haven’t been afforded this same right, nor will Scottish 16 and 17-year-olds be able to vote in the upcoming EU Referendum or UK elections. We will continue to make the case for Votes at 16 on a UK-wide level until this contradiction is resolved.”
The British Youth Council, which has been campaigning for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17 year olds since 1992, will now call on the House of Commons and the National Assemblies/Parliament to re-open the debate and introduce legislation to ensure equal voting rights. In 2014 the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee on Votes at 16 recommended that measures could and should be introduced, and in 2015 campaigned for the vote to be lowered in the EU referendum. This followed the precedent set by the Scottish independence referendum when lowering the franchise engaged a new generation in politics with impressive voter registration and turnout.
The British Youth Council held it’s annual Youth Voice Leadership Development Programme at the Kingswood Centre in Doncaster last weekend. The three-day flagship residential, which took place from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th April 2016, saw over 200 youth representatives come together for a weekend of training aimed at supporting them in their leadership roles, in their communities
The weekend residential allowed youth representatives to share best practice; meet other young people in similar 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. All activities, discussions and simulations culminated in a rally to support the UK Youth Parliament’s national campaign #DontHateEducate. This campaign aims to tackle racism and religious discrimination in the UK.
The residential marks the beginning of a year-long term of office for many youth representatives. Success stories from last year’s residential include raising awareness of the levels of homelessness in Leicestershire; lobbying for free youth transport links in East Belfast; and campaigning to lower the voting age to 16 year olds in Slough.
The British Youth Council is looking for people aged 16-25 who are motivated by a belief in the work of BYC to achieve our vision of a 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 BYC in the media and elsewhere.
While your first goal as a trustee is to serve your peers and BYC, 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 representation of those we serve alongside experience of governance. The British Youth Counci needs a diverse, inclusive spread of ages and talents.
The deadline for applications is Sunday 15th May at 11.59pm, so be quick!
On Tuesday 22nd March The British Youth Council and the Cabinet Office hosted a reception and debate to celebrate the achievements of the Discovering Democracy initiative. 64 schools won awards for their commitment to encouraging pupils to take an interest in the democratic process – both within the school or through a social action project in the local community, such as engaging with the UK Youth Parliament.
The awards ceremony took place in the House of Commons where schools were presented with awards by the Chairman of the British Youth Council, Jon Foster and the Minister for Constitutional Reform, John Penrose MP.
Introducing the event was Jon Foster, who described the awards as recognising the importance and excellence of democracy in schools, and two guest speakers, Sam Marshall from Xaverian College and Ciaron Farrell from Corelli College, made presentations on the importance of a democratic governing school body through their school council and the opportunities to engage and register young people as voters in public elections.
The host, John Penrose MP, then opened up the debate with a Q&A session, questioning the importance of youth engagement in politics, whether voting should be given to those aged 16 and 17, the priority of having a curriculum for life, and the importance of activism in the community. Describing the significance of the awards, he said “Democracy is only as healthy as the people involved in it; the huge variety of democracy shown in these schools will bring democracy back to life through participation and involvement”.
The Discovering Democracy Awards were an overall success in terms of school participation. 91 schools submitted applications from around the UK in this pilot phase of the initiative. 64 received awards, including 28 State schools and 36 Academy schools applied and, in total.
In addition to the certificates that they have been awarded with, the winning schools will also be named in a BYC national register of good practice which will be shared with the Electoral Commission and Ofsted.
The British Youth Council are marking International Women’s Day and the 2016 campaign theme ‘Pledge For Parity’. International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women but it’s also an opportunity for us to highlight the issues that are apparent and can’t be ignored.
Anna Barker, Vice Chair of Participation & Development for British Youth Council said:
“So much has been done to shatter glass ceilings at every level, and we must use this day to thank all of the incredible individuals who have fought for a better world for all genders. We must also use this day to highlight the conscious and unconscious bias that still exists across the globe. Today I am pledging to value women and men’s contributions equally and to shine a light on the most dramatic and obvious example of discrimination – despite the Equal Pay Act 45 years ago, women in the UK can expect to earn an average of 14% less than their male colleagues. Please your day to celebrate the women in your life, be conscious of everyday sexism and to fight for a better future for all.”
British Youth Council member, Girlguiding, have been highlighting inspiring young women. Tweet us (@bycLIVE) young women you feel are inspiring too!
— Girlguiding (@Girlguiding) March 8, 2016
The Government has today (Thursday 25th February 2016) released its Official Response to the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee Report – ‘Young People’s Mental Health’. The joint response from the Department for Education and Department of Health declares mental health and well-being as a ‘top priority in both departments’. It goes on to state that mental health has been “undervalued, underfunded and under prioritised for far too long”.
The Government has taken on board a number of the committee’s recommendations and has committed to “work with young people throughout” as it implements a number of measures. The response continues to state that “It is crucial that we work with young people throughout these changes – as only young people truly understand what they need from their services.” Both departments have acknowledged in particular the role of schools and the curriculum to prepare young people by providing a mental, as well as a physical, health education.
Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Community and Social Care and Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Childcare and Education praised a “well – informed and thoughtful report” and highlighted the Youth Select Committee’s “professionalism, passion and ability to ask the right questions”.
The response follows the Youth Select Committee’s inquiry, which launched in April 2015, considered both written and oral evidence and concluded that mental health services for young people are critically underfunded, with much work required to break down the stigma associated with mental health problems. In the report, published in November 2015, the Committee offered recommendations across three key areas: funding and the state of services, a role for education and awareness, stigma and digital culture.
Throughout the inquiry evidence was gathered from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, Ministers and health and education professionals. The inquiry was triggered after the issue topped the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot in 2014 of 877,488 young people in the UK. It remains a priority campaign for 2016.
Following the publication of the report, the Department of Health has commissioned a review of the “You’re Welcome” toolkit which assesses the level and quality of youth friendly services.
Rhys Hart,Chair of the Youth Select Committee said:”The Youth Select Committee’s comprehensive investigation discovered some important and serious issues around the current state of young people’s mental health services, we’re glad to see the Government accept our findings and are not only acting on some of our recommendations but have also made it clear mental health is a priority at both the Department for Education and Department of Health. Young people need to be at the forefront of the changes being made so I’m delighted to see the Government have committed to working with young people throughout.”
Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Community and Social Care, said: “When I first met with the Youth Select Committee I was struck by their passion and commitment; it gave me great hope for the young people they represent all across the country. As we start the biggest transformation of youth mental health services in the history of the NHS through our 1.4 billion investment, it is vital that we continue to involve young people every step of the way.”
Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Childcare and Education, with responsibility for young people’s mental health, said: “I have been genuinely impressed by the dedication of the Youth Select Committee to raise awareness of the challenges that young people with mental health issues face. We are at a turning point in how we tackle children’s mental wellbeing, however, it is only by working together with young people that we can make a genuine difference.
“We have already taken significant steps with more funding for charities that support young people’s mental health, advice to schools on how to improve counselling for pupils and a pilot scheme to look at better ways of linking schools and local health services. Now we are turning to young people to hear directly from them about how we can help them support their peers. We will use their feedback to inform new projects which we’re backing with £1.5million.”
British Youth Council members have chosen to prioritise mental health, votes at 16, and youth services as campaigns for 2016. During each year-long campaign, we’ll be building on the successes of our current mental health campaign, refreshing our campaign effort to save youth services across the country and reminding the Government why we think it’s important 16 and 17 year olds are given the opportunity to vote in all UK public elections and referenda.
The three issues, which were voted as priorities by our members, will build on the work we’ve done with partners to advance each campaign to a new level of debate. Our mental health campaign, which has included an in-depth inquiry into led by the Youth Select Committee on ‘Young People’s Mental Health’, will continue to target Government and local commissioners for further funding and better services for children and young people up and down the country. The Government has promised a formal response.
In our campaign to lower the voting age to 16, we aim to remind politicians of the precedent set by the Scottish Referendum which saw record levels of 16 and 17 year olds across Scotland voting for the very first time in history. This year we’re hoping the common sense argument will prevail – that alongside a ‘curriculum for life’ with citizenship/political education and easy voter registration, votes at 16 is good for the future of democracy. We believe there is growing support amongst Members of Parliament, as this becomes an question of equal rights (with Scotland) as well as good governance. You can find out more about votes at 16 and the coalition on our brand new website.
Lastly, in our campaign to save youth services, we aim to work closely with the national and local government to ensure that youth services are a core priority across the country despite the cuts to local authority budgets. We will also explore and encourage local partnerships involving young people to propose pragmatic solutions where there is unmet need.
Commenting on the new campaigns, Jon Foster, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It’s absolutely imperative that we continue to be a loud voice on mental health and wellbeing, lowering the voting age to 16 and youth services. We’ll need to work hard to ensure all three issues are kept fully on the agendas of decision makers in the country because these are the issues that young people really care about!”
In the coming months we’ll be forming new partnerships and campaign actions to ensure mental health and wellbeing, the voting age and save our services are highlighted at every opportunity throughout the year.