The British Youth Council are delighted to welcome new minister for Civil Society, Mims Davies MP, who will take on responsibility for youth policy at the Office for Civil Society following the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP.
The Government have ignored calls from the British Youth Council and Members of Parliament from across the House of Commons for a dedicated youth minister. The British Youth Council will be writing to the Minister highlighting continued concerns with the size of the brief which will reportedly include other responsibilities. Since 2010, the Government have failed to appoint a Minister responsible solely for young people, despite repeated requests for a minister which can champion the voices of young people.
Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It’s a real shame that the Government have decided to ignore calls for a Youth Minister.
“In order for young people’s voices to be championed effectively across Government, it is important this brief is made smaller. We can’t see how this can be carried out when the Minister will continue to have so many responsibilities”
The British Youth Council will also use this as an opportunity to draw attention the latest ballot of young people which concluded knife crime was a top concern for young people living in the UK. The nation-wide ballot of 11-18 year olds saw more than 1.1 million young people take part making it the largest consultation of its kind in UK history.
The British Youth Council currently work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to deliver the Youth Voice programme. The programme aims to give young people the opportunity to influence public decision-making at a local and national level.
Commenting on the appointment of the new minister, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council is looking forward to working with the new minister to ensure the Government remains committed to young people’s voices being heard right across the Government.
“This is a crucial time for the country, it’s vital young people are part of the decision making that is taking place at all levels of the Government.”
On Friday 9th November, Members of the Youth Parliament will debate topics as diverse as knife crime, votes at 16, and homelessness, as part of their annual session in the House of Commons Chamber. Over 250 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK will participate in the Commons debate.
The sitting will become the ninth session of the UK Youth Parliament in the Commons Chamber and the topics for debate were selected through the annual Make Your Mark campaign. This was the UK’s largest ever ballot of young people, with over 1.1 million young people aged 11-18 voting. The campaign was coordinated by the British Youth Council with the support of local authorities, the UK Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The debates raise the curtain on this year’s UK Parliament Week (12-18 November), an annual festival of events intended to connect communities across the UK with their democracy.
Morning session 11:00am -12:50pm
- Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections
Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/
- Tackling Homelessness
Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
- Equal Pay, Equal Work.
Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
Afternoon session 1:40pm- 4:00pm
- Mental Health
Mental health services should be improved with young people’s help; and should be available in schools.
- Put an end to Knife crime
Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
At the close of debates, Members of Youth Parliament will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their 2019 national campaigns. Members of Youth Parliament will then mark the 1918 Representation of the People Act which granted the vote to some women and all men.
The debates will be streamed live, with a 20 minute delay, on parliamentlive.tv and UK Parliament’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Highlights from the debates will also be broadcast on BBC Parliament from 12noon on Saturday 10th November.
The session will be presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said: “I am very pleased to be welcoming Members of the Youth Parliament to the House of Commons for the 9th time. This annual event is now a well- established and important moment in the parliamentary calendar. At such turbulent times it is vital that the voices of our future are heard – and the fact that over a million people voted for the motions to be debated by the MYPs, shows that young people are engaging fully and enthusiastically with the democratic process.”
Marcus Dyke, Member of Youth Parliament for Kingston upon Thames, said “Members of Youth Parliament will takeover the Commons chamber to debate the top concerns of young people in the UK.
“These issues were chosen in a nationwide ballot of over 1.1 million young people. Their voices must be heard! It’s imperative that moving forward, young people’s views are not only given a platform but are listened to by decision makers across the country.”
Members of Youth Parliament will also be joined by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons, and Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House of the Commons, who will both speak from the despatch box in recognition of the UK Youth Parliament being the only external group allowed to hold debates in the House of Commons Chamber.
Andrea Leadsom MP commented: “At such a crucial time for our country, we need to hear the voices of young people, who will help steer our future.
“UK Youth Parliament is a fantastic opportunity for young people to raise the issues they care about most, right in the heart of our democracy. I know that MPs in Parliament and Ministers in Whitehall will listen carefully to what MYPs have to say.”
Valerie Vaz MP said: “I am delighted to welcome and to hear Members of the Youth Parliament to the House for the 9th time. Over a million young people voted to select the topics.
“From mental health to promoting democracy and tackling the scourge of knife crime, these are all extremely pertinent issues, and I look forward to an engaging debate which I am sure will be of the usual high standard.”
Commenting on the joint-letter, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council welcome Cross-Party support for a dedicated Minister for Young People.
“We feel its imperative the Government use this as an opportunity to make this portfolio smaller. Young people’s voices should be heard by decision-makers at every level of the Government and we can’t see how this can be prioritised in such a large brief.”
The British Youth Council has issued a statement calling for the Government to appoint a Youth Minister.
Cross-Party group of MPs write to Prime Minister asking for dedicated Minister for Young People
25 MPs have put their name to a letter sent to the Prime Minister asking for a dedicated Minister for Young people after the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP.
Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and Green MP’s all signed the letter which was sent to the Prime Minister this afternoon.
Currently, the Minister responsible for Young People takes on a number of other roles including gambling, sport, civil society and loneliness. MPs believe that this brief is too big for anyone minister to be across properly.
The lead signature on the letter is Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP who is the current Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs, said;
“Tracey was a fine Minister but even a superhuman couldn’t handle the workload expected of that multi-portfolio and with the current crisis we’re having with youth crime and violence we need a dedicated minister for Young People.
“We are not trying to score party political point here this is a group of cross-party MPs who simply want what has existed under previous Labour and Conservative Governments, that is a dedicated Minister for Young People.”
The British Youth Council is sad to learn that, Tracey Crouch MP, has resigned as Sports & Civil Society Minister. The former Minister, who has held the brief since June 2017, played a crucial in ensuring young people’s voices were built into the Civil Society Strategy. In response to the news, the British Youth Council has reignited calls for the Government to appoint a Youth Minister.
Commenting on the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP, Jo Hobbs, Chief Executive of the British Youth Council said: “I’d like to thank Tracey Crouch for being a fantastic advocate of youth voice throughout her tenure as Sports & Civil Society Minister.
“Tracey was pivotal in ensuring youth voice was built into the Civil Society Strategy.”
It has been a longstanding view of the British Youth Council that the Government should appoint a Minister solely responsible for young people – a role which has not existed since 2010. The Government have ignored previous calls for a youth minister, despite attempts to highlight concerns with the size of the brief.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council have repeatedly highlighted concerns with the ever-growing ministerial brief.
“We firmly believe the Government should appoint a Youth Minister who can champion the voices of young people at the heart of Government.
In August the Government formally committed to reviewing the guidance which sets out the statutory duty placed on local authorities to provide appropriate youth services.
Amanda went on to say: “The British Youth Council will be seeking reassurances from the Office for Civil Society, ensuring it remains firmly committed to reviewing the guidance for local authorities on youth provisions.”
More than one million young people declared ending knife crime a top priority for young people living in the UK. Make Your Mark called on teenagers to choose which issue they felt was a priority. Last week it was revealed that knife crime had risen by 12% in just a year. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said police recorded almost 40,000 knife or “sharp instrument” offences in the 12 months leading up to June, the highest number on record.
This year’s Make Your Mark campaign has seen 1,111,580 young people take part, making it one of the largest youth consultations of its kind in UK history, with nearly 1 in 5 of all young people aged 11-18 taking part. The Make Your Mark ballot is run by the British Youth Council with support from Local Authorities, schools, Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It gives young people across the country a say on what is to be debated on the green benches of the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament.
Each issue will be discussed within the chamber on Friday 9th November during the UK Youth Parliament’s eighth sitting in the House of Commons. This years debate is due to be chaired by John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons who has chaired every debate in the House of Commons since their first sitting in 2009.
The five issues that have been prioritised are:
- Put an end to Knife crime – Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
- Mental Health – Mental health services should be improved with young
- people’s help; and should be available in schools..
- Equal Pay, Equal Work – Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
- Tackling Homelessness – Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
- Votes at 16 – Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/referendums.
Speaking on behalf of UK Youth Parliament, Brahmpreet Kaur Gulati, said: “Knife crime in the UK continues to escalate and for far too long, the threat of knife culture has not been addressed by decision makers and this needs to change”
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council, the charity which commissioned the consultation, said: “It’s phenomenal to see so many young people take part in this years Make Your Mark survey, in which we had the highest number of young people ever taking part. Young people from across the UK voted in record numbers to ensure their voices were heard, and decision makers must take note of their priorities.”
The sitting of Members of Youth Parliament is still the only time anyone other than MPs debate on the famous green benches with MPs only recently granting access for this new term of Parliament. The debates will be concluded with a vote to decide on which issues should become their priority campaign in 2018.
On 3rd October, the British Youth Council welcomed members of alumni, current and former members of staff, current and former trustees and friends of British Youth Council to a drinks reception and celebration to commemorate 70 years since the British Youth Council was founded. With alumni reaching back to the 1970’s right up until the 2010’s, the event was the perfect recipe for exchanging stories and learning about how the British Youth Council has changed and developed over time.
Guests were welcomed by the CEO, Jo Hobbs who then introduced the key-note speaker, Lord Peter Mandelson. He talked fondly of his time as Chair of the British Youth Council, saying ‘BYC played a seminal part in my whole political formation and career trajectory… Although I’ve been in the labour party all my life, what the British Youth Council gave me was an outlook on how you should do politics in the labour party and beyond’. He then encouraged guests to support the British Youth Council to ensure the charity can continue to flourish.
Lord Peter Mandelson handed over to our incoming Chair, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, who commented: “Nothing makes the current trustees happier than seeing the virtuous cycle of young people leading and really shaping this organisation and being shaped in turn before going off to change the world and then coming back as you all have tonight as the leaders of today.”
Anna Barker, our outgoing Chair, also took the stage and spoke eloquently and charismatically about her personal journey with the British Youth Council. From being a 15 year old carer from a low income background in rural Dorset, up until today as the award winning Charity Chair of the Year. Anna has led the charity as a board member and Chair for the last three years, astounding staff, trustees, young people and everyone in the youth sector with her uncompromising ability to campaign for change for young people. In her departing comments, Anna made three commitments;
- ‘Fun – although we are growing up, we should never stop having fun. Yes of course we should set goals and have aspirations and work really hard, but do this with joy and with light. I will ensure that today and the days that follow, the weeks and the months and the years beyond are filled with passion, joy and meaning like I’ve had at the British Youth Council.
- Give – I am a regular donor but I will also give my time and energy wherever you need it. To the current board, the staff team, I am more than ok to give that. I would also like to pledge £200 in the Big Give, which will be doubled during that campaign this Christmas.
- And finally – I promise to always elevate the experiences of young people, I promise to ask and to listen and I promise to always hold dear the vision, mission and values of the British Youth Council.’
Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council rounded up the speeches by thanking all of the guests for coming and saying: “Your support really does mean the world. The way we give young people a voice in the UK is something that changes lives and is one of the best things about the British Youth Council.”
If you missed this event but are interested in attending other events like this, please sign up to the Friends of British Youth Council mailing list to make sure you are kept up to date.
By making a donation to the British Youth Council, you are investing in a future where young people are empowered to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives.
The Electoral Reform Society has today released a report damning the 2018 Voter ID pilots as ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’. At this year’s local elections five areas trialled different forms of ID requirements as a measure to prevent voter fraud. However, as highlighted by the report, in a single day across the five councils twice as many people didn’t vote due to having incorrect ID as have been accused of personation, the type of fraud that ID prevents, in eight years across the whole of the UK.
The British Youth Council is among many voluntary and community sector organisations who have already raised concerns about the impact of Voter ID on the participation of marginalised communities across the UK. Evaluations have shown that those in lower socio-economic groups and younger voters were less likely to know about the ID requirements. The Windrush scandal this year has highlighted the difficulties that some legitimate voters could have in accessing identity documents. In the UK we do not have a universal and free form of photographic ID, meaning that there are financial barriers to providing photographic ID, and additional hoops to step through to gain a free locally accepted ID.
“Throughout history, the power of the vote and, equal access to voting, is something that so many have fought for – with young people being some of those who continue that battle to this day,” says British Youth Council Trustee Larissa Kennedy. “It seems oxymoronic that, in the year that we are celebrating the centenary of the extension of the franchise to some women, and 90 years since the vote was extended to all women and men over 21, that we are simultaneously putting barriers in the way of people accessing their vote.”
At the recent full Council meeting of the British Youth Council, a motion opposing the introduction of voter ID was passed by the membership, calling on the Government to reconsider the current approach and to look at different solutions that are proportionate to the actual risk posed by voter fraud, and calling on the Electoral Commission to examine the impact of voter ID trials on marginalised communities, including young people, to ensure that the impacts are not disproportionately felt by those communities.
“We heard from young people in one of the pilot areas that they were left feeling that only the smart and well educated would be voting’,” said Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council. “Democratic participation is a crucial responsibility of every member of society and attempts to deal with voter fraud must not disproportionately harm access to democracy. In the 2017 UK Parliamentary elections, 13 seats were won with a majority less than the number of people denied a vote in Bromley. The introduction of voter ID has a huge potential to swing the outcome of elections, reducing the voice of those already marginalised from the democratic process and creating a greater sense of disillusionment with the democratic process.”
The British Youth Council believes that the right to vote of young people and other marginalised communities must be protected. We will continue to stand alongside the Electoral Reform Society and other voluntary and community sector organisations to call for the voices of the marginalised to be heard and to remove barriers to democratic participation.
UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark campaign received cross-party support from Members of Parliament this week. The ballot invites young people aged 11-18 to take part in shortlisting what is debated in the House of Commons chamber by Members of Youth Parliament. Young people can cast their vote in a multitude of ways including online.
The issues on the ballot, which includes ending period poverty and tackling homelessness, reflect the pledges made at local elections by Members of Youth Parliament across the UK. The nationwide campaign is supported by Local Authorities, schools and volunteers who are giving up their time to make sure young people have their say. Throughout the Autumn Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth clubs to take this opportunity to inform and influence Government and the decision makers in their communities.
Make Your Mark, which is supported by the British Youth Council, has reached hundreds of thousands of young people each year. Last year alone, almost a million young people took part in the annual ballot.
The Commons debate will take place on Friday 9th November, and will be chaired by The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who recently pledged his support for the campaign stating he looked forward to “welcoming the Members of the Youth Parliament and presiding over some truly inspiring debates”. Following the debates, Members of Youth Parliament will then choose their priorities for 2019.
You can find pictures of the Members of Parliament who pledged their support on Facebook.
Young people can now take part in the UK Youth Parliament’s ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign, the UK’s largest survey of young people’s views. Young people aged 11-18 are invited to take part in the ballot to shortlist what is debated in the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament later this year.
The annual ballot, which has taken place since 2011, contains 10 policies voted for by Members of Youth Parliament including ending period poverty, mental health in schools, tackling homelessness and adapting the curriculum.
The campaign will see Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth groups to take this opportunity to have their say and to inform and influence the Government and decision makers in their communities.
This year’s campaign, which is supported by the British Youth Council, is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of young people from across the UK. Last year, a total of 954,766 young people from every corner of the country took part.
Kira Lewis, a member of the Procedures Group, which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “For the eighth time in history, UK Youth Parliament will give young people across the country the chance to declare which issues are a priority for them.
“Young people are passionate about seeing change in their community and it’s important that politicians address the concerns of young people. Make Your Mark gives decision makers a direct insight into the priorities of young people living in the UK and I hope many will take action once young people have had their say!”
Following the campaign, priority issues will be brought to the attention of Government Ministers including Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, who is due to attend the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting and will reply on behalf of the Government.
The Commons debate, which will take place on 9th November 2018, will be chaired by Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who spoke at the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Conference in Nottingham last month. After the debates, Members of Youth Parliament will walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should become their priority campaigns for 2019. In previous years, mental health, tackling racism and religious discrimination and a lower voting age have been prioritised.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “The Make Your Mark ballot is an excellent opportunity for millions of young people across the UK to celebrate the democratic process and make their voices heard.
“Last year, almost a million young people voted for the crucial motions to be debated by Members of Youth Parliament, and this year looks like it will be no different. I look forward to welcoming the Members of the Youth Parliament and presiding over some truly inspiring debates.”
Young people can take part in the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
The Government have released their new civil society strategy, revealing plans to tackle big societal issues. The British Youth Council welcome the Government’s new commitment to review the guidance which sets out the statutory duty placed on local authorities to provide appropriate youth services.
The Government shift comes following years of campaigning by the British Youth Council and campaigns like Choose Youth which have been working to convince the Government of the important role youth services play. In the past, the Government have resisted calls for statutory youth services despite clear evidence of the positive impact they’ve had on young people living in the UK.
The British Youth Council believes properly funded youth services aid young people in their personal development and their ability to function in a fast-changing society. We call on the Government and local councils to protect the budgets of such invaluable services and to ensure adequate financial and organisational provision is given to local council-run youth organisations. This will allow for a fairer, safer and stronger environment for young people.
Since 2010, youth services have suffered as a result of financial cuts and restrictions despite the thousands of young people who rely on these vital services. Youth services deliver a wide range of social and personal educational services to young people from sex and relationship advice to learning how to interact with peers. We know that youth services provide a supportive place for young people to become a force for good in society and we believe that the Government must recognise the difference these services make.
The British Youth Council also welcome the Government’s commitment to empowering young people to ‘shape the future of the country’. We believe it’s absolutely vital young people able to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives. In the strategy, the Government states young people should be ‘systematically involved in shaping the policies that affect them’.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council are excited to hear the Government are open to changing their view on statutory youth services. We’ve been clear for many years, the role of youth services is far too important to be left to chance. Young people should have access to high-quality youth services, regardless of where they live.
“We’re really pleased the Government have recognised the importance of providing young people with a meaningful opportunity to influence the design and implementation of programmes which affect them. We hope the Government continue to involve young people in its decision making because young people are passionate about the issues that affect them and their communities”