UK Youth Parliament marks International Youth Day with the largest consultation of young people’s views in the country. Everyone aged 11-18 years old is invited to ‘Make their Mark’ on the ballot to shortlist what is debated in the House of Commons by the Youth Parliament on 11th November 2016.
The ballot will contain 10 policies voted for by Members of Youth Parliament including mental health, and lowering the voting age, which reflects their election pledges in local elections across the UK earlier in the year. The campaign will see Members and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth clubs to take this opportunity to have their say and to inform and influence Government and decision makers in their communities.
This year’s campaign, supported by the British Youth Council, NCS (National Citizen Service), Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health, and #iwill Campaign aims to beat last year’s record of 969,992 young people taking part.
The aim of the exercise is to bring priority issues to the attention of Government Ministers, including the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, with responsibility for youth policy, Rob Wilson MP who will attend the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting and reply on behalf of the Government.
The Commons debate will take place on 11th November, and be chaired by The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who recently spoke at the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Sitting in York. Young members will then walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should be a become their priority campaigns for 2016/17. In recent years they prioritised “Mental Health” and “Tackling Racism and Religious Discrimination”.
Young people can take part in the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
Connor Hill, 16, Member of Youth Parliament for Dudley said: “Make Your Mark is the biggest youth consultation in the country. It enables us to properly represent the young people within our constituencies across the whole of the nation. Time and time again decision makers just don’t pay attention to young people because they tell us we are not engaged or that we don’t understand. Make Your Mark gives us as MYPs a huge mandate to say we represent young people’s views, young people do want a say and I can’t wait to see the House of Commons chamber this year packed full of passionate young people debating the issues that have been selected by the public.”
This year’s Youth Parliament, which itself was elected in local elections by 100,000’s teenagers, is expected to be one of the most diverse groups of representatives, with a gender balance, young people from ethnic minorities and different faiths all sitting on the green benches. The young elected reps, aged 11-18, include many facing the day-to-day challenges that their campaigns seek to address.
Media spokespeople are available on request at various points throughout the campaign. To organise interviews please contact the British Youth Council’s press office.
Following its call for written evidence in May, the Youth Select Committee is holding oral evidence sessions with a range of witnesses as part of its inquiry into racism and religious discrimination. The first oral evidence session will take place in the Grimond Room at Portcullis House on Friday 8th July 2016. The inquiry comes at a time when reports have been suggesting a sharp increase in racist incidents since the EU Referendum.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee, now in its fifth year, is exploring how to tackle racism and religious discrimination, particularly focussing on awareness and education; services; and prevention. The Committee’s particular areas of interest are available in its terms of reference, which are available online. The Committee’s eleven members are aged 13-18 and include two Members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYPs), two youth councillors, a Young Mayor, one elected representative from each of the devolved nations and three reserved seats. Previous inquiries have reported on Transport, Education, Votes at 16, and Mental Health.
Bronagh Hughes, 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee from Northern Ireland said: “In the UK today, racism and religious discrimination are ever more prevalent and divisive issues in society that need to be addressed. The fact that this topic was chosen by the UK Youth Parliament in their debate last November, highlights that young people today feel that more must be done to tackle it. It’s important that young people engage in politics and as a Committee we looking forward to hearing from a range of individuals and organisations on the work that they do to help tackle these issues.”
Racism and religious discrimination was voted as the priority campaign of the UK Youth Parliament, following their Make Your Mark ballot and their annual House of Commons debate in November 2015.
During the Youth Select Committee’s oral evidence session they will hear from interested parties who submitted evidence including bodies like the National Black Police Associate and National Police Chiefs’ Council, charities like Kick It Out and young people from various parts of the country. The Youth Select Committee mirrors the UK Parliament Select Committee structure and gives young people the opportunity to scrutinise and hold enquiries into topics of importance to them. The Youth Select Committee has received induction training and mentoring from Parliamentary Clerks and British Youth Council staff.
Friday 8 July – Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Panel 1 – Education: organisations
- Troy Townsend, Education and Development Manager, Kick It Out
- Kim Johnson, President, National Association of Head Teachers
- Jenny Barksfield, Deputy Chief Executive,PSHE Association
Panel 2 – Young People’s Panel
- Hania Sulaiman, member of youth cabinet, Trafford Youth Cabinet, andMark Bailey, Advocacy and Engagement Manager, Children’s Rights Services,Trafford Council
- Zena Al-Sadoun, Member of Youth Parliament for Plymouth, and Jenny Way, youth worker,Plymouth City Council
- Iqra Al-Sadoun, Campaign representative for Youthforia, and Elizabeth Harding, Chief Executive, Youth Focus North West
Panel 3 – Education: projects
- Alex Raikes, Director, Stand Against Racism and Inequality
- Marvin Rees,Mayor of Bristol
- Irene Hewitt, Secretary, Derry office, Ulster Project
- Amanda Naylor, Senior Manager of the Children and Young People’s Programme,You & Co
Panel 4 – Community: projects
- Jas Hothi, Sports Development Officer, London Youth
- James Kingett, Campaign Worker, Show Racism the Red Card
- Jill Wilson, Communities Together, and Director ofThe Equality Practice Ltd
- Piotr Teodorowski, Ethnic Minorities Health Link Worker, Grampian Regional Equality Council
The sessions will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. For meetings in Portcullis House, the entrance is located on Victoria Embankment. There is no system for the prior reservation of seats in Committee Rooms. It is advisable to allow 30 minutes to pass through security checks. Committee rooms and the timing of meetings are subject to change.
“It’s still our future” says Jon Foster in a letter to Oliver Letwin MP chief of new EU Unit at the Cabinet Office in a request for a special roundtable meeting to ensure youth voices are heard in future negotiations.
The British Youth Council also revealed today (Thursday 30th June) that it will use its next meeting with the Cabinet Office under the Youth Voice initiative, to press the case for a fresh and urgent response to its existing campaigns to empower youth voice to be even more effective in democracy, such as its ongoing campaign to lower the voting age to 16, and to promote democracy and voter registration in schools, through its Discovering Democracy initiative. These actions are the follow up to the British Youth Council statement to members earlier in the week which reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to empower young voices to be heard in the aftermath of the Brexit result. (see below for summary of the statement)
The letter will be copied to Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society; John Penrose MP, Minister for Democratic Engagement, and Karen Bradley MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Home Office.
- Votes at 16 in all public elections including the next General Election
- More investment to promote awareness and good practice of democratic engagement through existing youth voice initiatives like the UK Youth Parliament,Young Mayors, Local Youth Councils, and social action campaigns.
- Support to continue the British Youth Council’s pilot Discovering Democracy awards initiative in schools on voter registration and good practice in citizenship.
- Support for the youth-led ‘Don’t Hate – Educate’ campaign and greater awareness of the Youth Select Committee on Racism and Religious Discrimination
The British Youth Council has regular meetings between the Cabinet Office and its elected UK Young Ambassadors from the UK, as part of the Youth Voice initiative which includes the UK Youth Parliament.
EU referendum results – “It’s still our future”
In a letter to British Youth Council members earlier this week, Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said “What happens next is still about our future too. Today marks the beginning of a new debate about what it will look like – and we want to part of the conversation that shapes it. All the issues we care about and campaigned on before continue to be on our agenda, and we will add to these a desire for a more civil and engaging dialogue between politicians and young voters. Our voices need to be heard all year round not just at elections and referenda.”
He added: “We know from polling that young peoples had indicated a preference to remain and that many will be anxious about the future or will have questions about what leaving actually means, especially given the amount of contradictory information used by campaigners recently. So the British Youth Council will continue to be proactive in representing those concerns and to decision makers and calls on leaders and stakeholder to listen to our views, especially from those who were too young to vote.
“In light of the referendum result, it is essential the views and voices of young people are represented in any negotiation process on issues such as free movement and mutual opportunities. The British Youth Council believes that following a campaign of two opposite views and the resulting split vote, we now need to emphasise what still unites us within the UK and Europe. We take this opportunity to renew our call for the introduction of Votes at 16 in all elections, enhanced educational provision regarding voter registration and turnout, and the appointment of a Minister for Young People – who we would want to champion youth interests in future negotiations and Government.
Throughout the inevitable changes that the UK now faces, the British Youth Council will continue to empower and support young people, ensuring their voice is heard and that they are able to impact upon the decisions that interest and affect them.”
Ife Grillo, 17, Vice Chair Campaigns and Communications, British Youth Council and former Member of Youth Parliament for Hackney said “Democracy works best when all parts of society are allowed to engage in it. Not giving 16 year and 17 year-olds the vote in the EU Referendum was bad for democracy, politics and youth engagement. It further told young people that their voice wasn’t respected. Whatever happens in the next few months, young people need to be at the forefront of decision making. We need to make sure their concerns are actually listened to and addressed. Young people are the future, but they have a right to shape the present”
The British Youth Council is also calling for supporters to help take forward these goals by giving time or making a donation to support young volunteers, and in particular to provide a platform to share views through a survey, youth consultation event and even a Parliamentary lobby.
The British Youth Council condemns the racism and hate crimes against immigrants that have surfaced in recent days following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. The British Youth Council has a history of campaigning to challenge racism and promote inclusion, diversity and equality and we calls on the media, stakeholders and decision-makers to report and support our current activities – the Youth Parliament ‘Don’t Hate, Educate!’ campaign and the British Youth Council Youth Select Committee inquiry into “racism and religious discrimination”.
The UK Youth Parliament launched their year-long campaign ‘Don’t Hate, Educate!’ to tackle racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim and Jewish in January 2016 and have been delighted with the widespread support of the campaign ever since.
The campaign started following the Make Your Mark ballot which took place in the autumn of 2015 seeing the issue become one of the top five with 95,000 young people nominating it as their most important issue and then the subsequent vote by Members of Youth Parliament in House of Commons to make this their national campaign in November 2015.
Ife Grillo, Vice Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s important we work together to challenge the nasty fallout from the Brexit result. Young people were already coming together to challenge hate crime, and race and religious discrimination, and now it’s even more important everyone else gets behind them.
“We encourage supporters of all ages to back the UK Youth Parliament ‘Don’t Hate, Educate!’ campaign, and support the work of the British Youth Councils Youth Select Committee inquiry into Race and Religious Discrimination. We are playing our part and we call on the media to report these great youth-led campaigns, on politicians to listen to us, and for supporters to help us by tweeting support, or getting involved in the campaign. Young people are the future, but some have already started work to shape the present”
British Youth Council calls for a big youth vote turnout in the EU referendum today. Whatever side you are on, if help to achieve a high turnout amongst younger voters, then you will strengthen yours and our mandate to be heard in a post-referendum world. We know that older people appear to have more influence because they have a higher turnout at elections. So when we vote more – we’ll get more #votepower.
Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Whatever the result in the referendum we need a high turnout so we can campaign with confidence and be heard on your issues in an uncertain future – on equal pay, on equal votes, on equal health. Our voice needs to be heard all year round not just in and out at elections. Turnup Turnout – Vote today!.”
Polling stations are open until 10pm! Get voting!
The British Youth Council today called for all 18-25 years to turnout and vote for youth, especially the undecided, to vote on behalf of those under eighteen who want to vote but cannot.
Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said “All our voices need to be heard, and all year round, not just in and out at elections. So turnup turnout – Vote for Youth on Thursday 23rd.”
The British Youth Council has been campaigning since 1992 for equal votes for 16 and 17 years with the rest of the population age groups, and more recently for this referendum, where we wanted equality with the Scottish independence vote. Jon went on to say “We want to highlight the fact that 16 and 17 year-olds could and should have been allowed to vote. We also believe that high youth turnout will add weight to the youth mandate and make all youth voices more likely to be heard in the future. Turnout equals #votepower and if we vote today they will listen tomorrow
“We are meant to be a United Kingdom with equal rights – except the right to vote! Even after the result, in or out, we demand age equality in all elections and parity across the four nations of the United Kingdom.”
Commenting on engaging young people in the politics, Ife Grillo, Vice Chair Campaigns & Communications, British Youth Council said “The future belongs to young people, and this referendum is about shaping the future of our country. Whatever side you are on, if there is a high turnout amongst younger voters, then you will strengthen your mandate to be heard in a post-referendum Europe.
“During this campaign, both sides have tried to engage young people and what’s important is that this continues after the election. Young people lose faith in politics and elections because they feel that politicians don’t really care about their opinion. Whatever the result, young people need to be at the forefront of what happens next.”
The British Youth Council’s Chief Executive, James Cathcart is to leave the organisation by the end of the year. The news is announced today (Friday 3rd June 2016) to allow plenty of time to prepare a transition plan to ensure a smooth handover to his successor. Details about the recruitment process are now available.
In a letter to members, Jon Foster, British Youth Council said: “It is with real sadness that I must announce our Chief Executive James Cathcart will be stepping down as our Chief Executive later this year. For the last eight years, James has worked tirelessly to grow our organisation and championed our youth-led principles and practice with passion and determination. In an increasingly difficult time for youth charities, James has led us diligently ensuring we continue to campaign, empower and inspire young voices when they have most needed to be heard. James has been an incredible force for good here at BYC, and whilst we are extremely sad to lose him, we wholeheartedly wish him the best in his future endeavours.
“In the meantime, to ensure a smooth handover to the next CEO, we have planned a six month transition period. The Board are excited about the prospect of a having new CEO to take the British Youth Council forward to the next level, as we approach a new phase for youth participation in the UK. Having secured four year backing from the Government for our flagship project Youth Voice (including the UK Youth Parliament) we need to renew our efforts to keep young peoples voices heard by decision-makers at all levels, and to continue to campaign on the issues that matter to us, such as better mental health services, votes at 16 and challenging discrimination. The successful candidate will need to be committed to working to a youth-led Board and putting our members at the heart of what we do. They will, like James, be a hands-on leader, getting to know and supporting young representatives in our national projects and the Board, and allowing space for their public voice to be heard.”
James Cathcart, Chief Executive, British Youth Council said “I’ve worked for the British Youth Council for eight years and thought a lot about the timing of this move. The British Youth Council has a long history of adapting and renewing itself to move with the times, and I believe now is the right time for me and the right time for the British Youth Council to do this.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for someone amazing to come in and take the British Youth Council to the next level. The British Youth Council is a unique organisation, being independently youth-led and democratic. This has made it one of the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding jobs I have ever done. In the meantime we have lots to do: taking evidence at the Youth Select Committee on Racism and Religious discrimination; promoting the Make Your Mark campaign for the Youth Parliament to be the biggest one ever in Europe; hosting the Annual Sitting of UK Youth Parliament in York; taking forward our campaigns on Saving Youth Services, better Mental Health service, and Votes at 16; and finally planning our Annual Council Meeting in September when we renew our manifesto and Board.
“Our society needs to embrace and engage the skills, talent and idealism of youth, if it is to benefit from the undoubted added-value that the next generation want to contribute (today not tomorrow!). So the work to achieve this goes on.”
James has served the British Youth Council for over eight years, following a 28 year career in youth work starting as a volunteer in a youth club in Kent. He later specialised in mentoring and youth participation, at organisations such as The Prince’s Trust and the National Children’s Bureau, before joining the British Youth Council in 2008. He will leave by December.
The British Youth Council is calling on campaigners and politicians to do more to appeal to young voters to register by 6th June. A British Youth Council Twitter poll suggests that 32% of those unregistered don’t care, and 27% that youth voters are not valued. Have campaigners left it too late to change their minds?
We have seen more media coverage in recent days talking up the importance of the youth vote but have campaigners left it too late to persuade young voters to register and turnout.
A Biritsh Youth Council Twitter poll (891) of those aged 18-25 and not yet registered, gave four reasons: ‘Don’t care – 32%; ‘Young voters not valued – 27%’ ; ‘Undecided on whether to Remain or Leave – 29%’; and ‘Dont know how – 12%’ . Its not just the focus on the ease of voter registration that matters – but on whether voters care and are cared about enough to mobilise the youth vote.
— BritishYouthCouncil (@bycLIVE) 28 May 2016
Ife Grillo, Vice Chair Campaigns & Communications, British Youth Council said “Its our voice and not just our vote that is important, and that we are heard before and after elections, not just during them
“This referendum campaign has bombarded us with contradictory facts and forecasts. However the British Youth Council has been consistently calling on politicians and campaigners all year round to do more to listen to and act on views and campaigns of young voices, introduce citizenship education in schools to explain how democracy works, and lower the voting age to 16 to empower and engaged us at a younger age.
“A vote is for the future – not just for the referendum and we’ll be back after the result to see how they propose accommodate youth interests whatever the outcome. Leave or Remain, we want better mental health services, votes at 16, measures to tackle racism and religious discrimination, a curriculum for life, affordable transport, and good youth services.”
The British Youth Council refreshes and relaunches its EU Voter Registration campaign to encourage young people to register before the deadline of 6th June.
The British Youth Council is campaigning to encourage young people to join the debate, register to vote and turn-out in large numbers for the EU Referendum on 23rd June because “It’s our future too!”. But it calls on the campaigners (in or out) to do more to inspire and inform young voters.
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!”
As part of the campaign we have launched two opportunities which we are asking young people to engage in to help boost young voter registration. We are calling on young people to sign up to become Democracy Champions – this is a commitment to register at least 50 young people to vote in the EU Referendum. All those who register with us will become British Youth Council Campaigners. Those who register 100 young people will become Democracy Champions. We have also called on young people to use social media to encourage their peers to register to vote. The Young Voters Video Challenge calls on young people to record and post a 45 second video explaining the importance of using their #votepower!
To ensure young voters are able to make an informed decision in the EU Referendum, we have partnered with Nottingham Trent University to create ME&EU. The online platform is 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 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.