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.
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.