Following the Government’s statement announcing its intention to host an early General Election, the British Youth Council has launched calls for each political party to address the concerns of young people.
The British Youth Council are keen to stress that young people care about their future and should have their issues discussed and addressed. The upcoming election has particular significance because the uncertainty of Brexit continues to loom. The youth-led charity has also made it clear young people should be provided reassurance over their futures in the coming months.
A spokesperson for the British Youth Council said: “Politicians have a duty to ensure young people’s concerns are not only listened to but addressed.
“Over the coming weeks, candidates for Member of Parliament will be canvassing their future constituents and it’s imperative that politicians make some direct pledges to young people that are kept and actioned.”
The latest developments have also sparked renewed demands for a lower voting age to be introduced. The British Youth Council has a longstanding belief that 16 and 17 year olds should not be held back from voting in any election or referendum. 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds are set to miss out on visiting the ballot box again, despite the introduction of votes at 16 in Scotland and plans to introduce similar legislation in Wales.
Responding to calls for a lower voting age, the spokesperson went on to say: “It’s a real shame that 16 and 17 year olds are likely to miss out yet another General Election.
“It seems laughable that we still don’t have parity across the UK on this issue.”
We will be in contact with the Government and the Electoral Commission in the immediate future to discuss voter registration so we can ensure young people are engaged in this election. In previous elections, we have worked with sector partners to encourage young people to make their mark at polling stations.
Moving forward the British Youth Council will be urging young people to register to vote now to avoid missing out on having a crucial say in the next direction of the country.
Following a nationwide consultation, climate change has been declared the biggest priority for young people across the UK. The Make Your Mark campaign, which was sponsored by Fledglink, called on young people aged 11-18 to choose which issue they felt was a priority.
The ballot has seen more than 825,000 young people take part, maintaining the campaign as one of the largest consultations of young people in UK history. The Make Your Mark ballot is run by the British Youth Council with support from Local Authorities, schools, UK Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
The five issues that have been prioritised are:
- Protect the Environment – We believe that we have a responsibility to protect the environment from the effects of climate change for the next generation; and that the Government should look towards carbon neutral alternatives.
- 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..
- Tackling Hate Crime – We should be educated on how to report hate crime. We believe the Government should invest in creating safe spaces that promote unity in communities.
- Curriculum to Prepare Us for Life – Schools should cover topics like finance, sex and relationship education and politics.
Speaking on behalf of UK Youth Parliament, Samira-Caterina Monteleone, said: “The climate emergency is a problem that will affect young people more than any other generation. We know this issue cannot be ignored. This is young people sending an unambiguous message: this Government must take steps to protect our environment.”
Knife crime was voted the most important issue for young people in 2018, and remains a critical issue as knife crime hits a new record high. Members of Youth Parliament have been campaigning on knife crime throughout 2019, calling on the Government to take urgent action.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council, the charity which commissioned the consultation, said: “It’s truly amazing to have so many young people take part in the Make Your Mark ballot.
Young people have declared climate change, knife crime, mental health and a reform curriculum as their top priorities. Decision makers must now take step to address these issues directly.”
The consultation 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 in the chamber on Friday 8th November at the UK Youth Parliament’s ninth sitting.
(Pictured: Members of Youth Parliament, during the 2018 House of Commons Sitting)
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 2020.
Following consultation with young people, the Work Experience Action Group has launched their Work Experience Toolkit for small and medium businesses in England. The newly formed focus group has created a series of resources which are due to be distributed amongst Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and young people’s hubs outlining what quality work experience looks like and how to make it accessible to young people.
The group is made up of 6 young people aged 16-25, who have a range of experiences with work and education. The group is bound together by their commitment to ensuring young people have access to quality work experience opportunities. The report has been made possible by a grant from the People’s Postcode Trust: a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Through consultation with other young people and with support from The Careers & Enterprise Company, the Work Experience Action Group developed 5 aspects that make up a quality work experience placement, for SMEs to consider. These areas included preparation and planning, creating an enabling and inclusive environment, skills development, feedback and evaluation and follow-up.
The project was established following the Youth Select Committee’s inquiry into access to work experience last year. The committee of young people found there was a multitude of inequalities that affected young people’s access to good quality work experience across the UK. It also concluded young people from a rural area or from a low socio-economic background are amongst those that were facing a disproportionate lack of access. Employers from SMEs also expressed how they are willing to give good quality work experience but find that they are lacking the comprehension to construct an accessible environment to support all young people.
Commenting on the toolkit, Amanda
Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, said: “We know there
are unacceptable levels of inequality affecting young people’s access to good
quality work experience across the UK.
“The Work Experience Action Group have developed a toolkit which will enable more employers to not only make their work experience placements more accessible but will also ensure they can provide high quality opportunities.”
Creating Work Experience hubs for 11-18 year olds was one of the top issues in the UK Youth Parliament’s 2017 Make Your Mark ballot. The ballot saw almost 950,000 young people vote on issues that mattered most to them.
A lot has happened at the British Youth Council this year. From reaching 1.1 million young people in Make Your Mark, the largest youth consultation in the country, to celebrating our 70th anniversary and using this as an opportunity to engage with new Alumni networks.
We also secured funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery to follow up on the outcomes of the Youth Select Committee for the first time – this allowed a work experience action group to be formed who are creating a toolkit for young people.
We’ve also continued to strengthen our youth forums with the NHS and the Bank of England, which have Youth Voice at their core. Finally, we are approaching a milestone as the UK Youth Parliament approaches its 20th anniversary! Your commitment and support has made it possible to deliver this for so many years.
None of this could be achieved without the incredible support of our donors and continued supporters – it was you who made it happen. Investing in the British Youth Council means investing in the lives of young people and creating a world where they are empowered to inform the decisions that affect their lives. So by supporting our cause you are making space for positive social change!
From the British Youth Council Team and all those who benefit from your support, a huge THANK YOU!
The British Youth Council have praised the UK Labour Party for publishing comprehensive plans for statutory youth services. The youth-led charity also called on other political parties to set out their proposals for services that meet the needs of young people growing up in the UK.
The new plans, which were published as part of Labour’s vision for ‘Rebuilding Youth Services’, also include pledges to support regional, national and international collaboration. Within the vision, the political party outlines plans to maintain a close future relationship with the EU and cooperate with Member States and other European countries to co-ordinate youth policy. Members of the British Youth Council have stressed the importance of recognising European and global youth work in the UK, particularly initiatives that connect European affairs and young people’s everyday lives.
Commenting on pledge, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Youth services across the country have been decimated since 2010. Labour’s comprehensive plan responds to the growing concerns of young people. Youth services need proper funding and a long-term vision so we can build a more fairer, safer and stronger environment for younger generations.
“We’d love you see more political parties making detailed offers to young people that directly address the multifaceted issues they face growing up in the UK”
The new commitments from the Labour Party, which follows recent announcements from the Government confirming a new Youth Investment Fund, includes a pledge to strengthen the UK Youth Parliament and local youth councils.
Responding to the announcement, Simran Sangherra, a member of the Procedures Group, which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “We welcome Labour’s new commitments to statutory youth services. Young campaigners have been calling for better youth services for almost 10 years because we recognise how much they can support young people’s social and development needs.
“We’re also delighted to learn of their intention to strengthen youth voice. Young people should be at the forefront of decision making that affects their lives and UK Youth Parliament can play an important role in bringing about social change through meaningful representation and campaigning.”
As part of their plan, the opposition party also responded to long-standing calls for a dedicated minister, confirming they intend to appoint a Minister for Children and Young People with responsibility for the youth services at the Department for Education.
The British Youth Council welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to increase funding for youth services, following repeated calls for change from young people across the country.
Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer, confirmed Government plans to introduce a new Youth Investment Fund. The new funding is set to help build new youth centres, refurbish exciting youth facilitates and provide mobile facilities for harder to reach areas. The Chancellor confirmed the £500 million funds would also support the provision and coordination of high-quality services for young people and an investment in the youth workforce.
Commenting on the new fund, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “We’re delighted to learn of the new confirmed funding which is being set aside for youth services. Young people should have access to youth services, regardless of where they live. We’ve been asking the Government to recognise the value of youth services for almost a decade because so many young people rely on these services.
“We know that young people face a multitude of issues. Youth services can play an integral role in creating a fairer, safer and stronger environment for young people.”
The British Youth Council have been campaigning for increased funding for youth provisions since 2010 when the Government cuts resulted in youth services across the UK suffering. The youth-led charity believes youth services are an important addition to young people’s formal education. Young people have persistently reminded the Government that youth services provide a supportive place for young people to become a force for good in society.
The British Youth Council have been working with other leading youth organisations to highlight the importance of offering young people opportunities in their communities.
The British Youth Council would like to express thanks for the Speaker of the House of Commons’ long-standing support for the work of the British Youth Council and UK Youth Parliament throughout his tenure, following the announcement Rt Hon John Bercow MP intends to step down by Thursday 31st October 2019 or at the next election.
Commenting on the announcement, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, the charity that coordinates UK Youth Parliament, said: “The British Youth Council would like to thank the Speaker of the House of Commons for being a persistent champion of the voices of young people in UK Parliament.
“John Bercow MP has been a long-term supporter of youth voice, and importantly UK Youth Parliament, throughout his time as Speaker of the House of Commons”
The Speaker of the House of Commons chaired every Commons Sitting of the UK Youth Parliament throughout his ten-year tenure within the role and spoke at each Annual Conference, most recently at their event in Nottingham.
A spokesperson for the UK Youth Parliament said “We are sad to learn of the Speaker’s intention to step down and we thank him for his commitment to youth voice in UK Parliament.
“We will be working with Parliamentary colleagues to establish how this will affect proceedings of UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting”
UK Youth Parliament has launched ‘Make Your Mark’, the largest UK youth consultation of its kind. Following the campaign, the top issues will be brought to the attention of Government Ministers including the newly appointed Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran MBE, who has taken on responsibility for youth policy.
The annual ballot, which has taken place since 2011, will give young people aged 11-18 the chance to select one UK-wide issue, one devolved issue and give them the opportunity to identify an issue in their local communities. The ballot includes issues such as knife crime, the environment, mental health in schools and hate crime.
This year’s nationwide campaign is funded by Fledglink and supported by the British Youth Council and UK Parliament. The campaign, which is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of young people, 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, to influence the Government and decision makers in their communities. In 2018, more than 1.1 million young people from every corner of the country took part.
Khadeejah Hullemuth, a member of the Procedures Group, which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “Hundreds of thousands of young people across the country will get a chance to declare which issues are their biggest priority.
“Make Your Mark gives decision makers at every level of government the opportunity to understand young people’s priorities. Young people are passionate about the world they live in and their futures and politicians should not only listen to our concerns but act on them”
The top issues will be debated in the House of Commons chamber on Friday 8th November. The debate, which has taken place every year since 2009, 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 Leeds earlier this 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 knife crime have been prioritised.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “Every year the Make Your Mark ballot provides a fantastic opportunity for millions of young people across the UK to engage with Parliament and the democratic process.
“Last year, over a million young people made their voices heard, as they voted for vital motions to be debated by Members of the UK Youth Parliament. This year looks like it will be no different. I look forward to welcoming the inspiring Youth Members again as they capture the imagination by debating the crucial issues affecting the future of our United Kingdom.”
Find out more information about the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
The British Youth Council have stated the UK Government should ensure young people are at the table with decision-makers influencing the Government’s response to serious youth violence. The statement has been issued following the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry which has concluded the Government’s current approach is ‘completely inadequate’.
The youth-led charity also called on Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, to reiterate his predecessor’s commitment to engage young people in the solutions to serious youth violence. Over 1.1 million young people declared knife crime their biggest concern in a UK-wide ballot of young people aged 11 to 18 last year.
Commenting on the report, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Young people should be involved in any decision making that will affect their lives, but given the severity of this issue and the fact young people think its one of the biggest issues facing young people at the moment its important young people have an opportunity to influence Government on this issue.”
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee is also conducting an inquiry into the reported knife crime epidemic. The committee of eleven young people has been presented with evidence by young people, professionals, a Government minister and academics. The inquiry is due to conclude in November when the committee will make a set of recommendations to the Government.
The British Youth Council are delighted to welcome new minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran MBE, who will take on responsibility for youth policy at the Office for Civil Society following the departure of Mims Davies MP who has been in charge of the office since November 2018.
Commenting on the appointment of the new minister, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council are looking forward to working with the new minister to ensure the Government remains committed to young people’s voices being heard on the issues they’re passionate about.
“It remains absolutely vital, during this time, that young people play a role in the Government decision making”
The youth-led charity is writing to welcome the Minister to the new role, however, it will also reiterate its concerns for the size of the brief which will include other responsibilities. It is the organisation’s longstanding belief, that the Government should appoint a Minister solely responsible for young people. Successive Governments have ignored cross-party support for the reintroduction of the role which has been vacant since 2010.
Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said: “Despite our best efforts to persuade successive Governments, we still don’t have a dedicated Youth Minister.
“Although this appears to be a smaller brief, we’ll be requesting further reassurances that the size of the brief, won’t result in young people’s priorities being ignored.”
We will also use this as an opportunity to highlight the most important issues facing young people living in the UK. In the lead up to the General Election, the British Youth Council highlighted the underfunding of youth services and the importance of ensuring young people have a meaningful opportunity to influence Brexit negotiations.
The British Youth Council have worked under various Government departments since 2011 to deliver it’s Youth Voice programme. The Youth Voice programme, which is currently supported by Department for Culture, Media and Sport, includes UK Youth Parliament and Youth Select Committee. The programme aims to give young people the opportunity to influence public decision-making at a local and national level.