“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.