The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will examine different aspects of the reported knife crime epidemic in its next inquiry. The new committee of eleven young people, which is yet to be appointed, will embark on the inquiry in the Spring of 2019. Over 1.1 million young people declared knife crime their biggest concern in a UK-wide ballot of young people aged 11 to 18.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, the charity which commissioned the ballot, said: “Young people have made it clear knife crime is their greatest concern and it’s imperative we hold decision-makers to account on this issue. The lives of young people are far too important to be ignored. We must work to identify and action the solutions available.
“Young people should have the opportunity to speak out on the knife crime epidemic we are facing. But they must also have a meaningful opportunity to influence the Government’s response.”
Research published by the House of Commons Library in November 2018, stated knife crime, particularly where it affects young people, has been a ‘persistent and growing concern’ for successive governments. The new committee will set out the key areas for exploration prior to seeking written and oral evidence from the public.
Following passionate debates in the House of Commons, Members of Youth Parliament have chosen to campaign on knife crime in 2019. The campaign has already received cross-party support including vocal support from Vicky Foxcroft MP, Chair of the Youth Violence Commission and Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford.
Earlier this year the Youth Select Committee examined the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience. The Committee called on the Government to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people’s access to work experience.
Would you be interested in joining the Youth Select Committee? Apply to join now.
On Sunday, 2nd December, seven supporters, including staff members, young people and friends of the British Youth Council embraced the festive season, dressed up as Santa, and took part in the London Santa Run. Raising money for the British Youth Council, the runners were cheered on by a team of staff, friends and trustees underneath a flurry of fake snow.
Kira Lewis, who is a member of the UK Youth Parliament Procedures Group, commented; “I was proud to take part in this year’s London Santa Run, alongside some of the fantastic British Youth Council staff. The organisation has given me a platform to campaign for issues that have mattered most to me over the years I’ve been a member. I’ve really seen the difference the British Youth Council has made locally and nationally, so it’s important to me that I help give back to them through fundraising.”
The runners raised over £1,200 towards the work of the British Youth Council, which is an incredible amount. Support from events like this enables young people from across the UK to find their voice and use it for social and political change. From everyone at the British Youth Council, thank you to our runners, supporters and donors.
Don’t forget, to hear more about ways you can be involved in events like the Santa Run, sign up to our Friends of British Youth Council mailing list here.
Research carried out by the British Youth Council’s UK Young Ambassadors has concluded that young people are dissatisfied with the way education is structured and have offered viewpoints on how it can be improved to reflect the needs of young people. The new report, which launched on Monday 3rd December 2018, also concludes young people feel incredibly unsupported when it comes to applying for jobs.
60% of the young people surveyed identified the need to have individual capacity for development, languages, internet and media literacy, adaptability to different contexts, democratic participation, intercultural dialogue and basic finance skills as very important to have in school curriculums.
The youth-led consultation, which was led by UK Young Ambassadors for Structured Dialogue, was carried out to establish what the needs of young people are in all the different policy aspects of the European Union. UK Young Ambassadors chose the topics which would resonate most with young people living in the UK and the issues they face. The extensive process investigated the following issues:
- What skills young people want to have developed in school, but don’t get the chance to, for their future endeavours?
- What can be further done to support young people in regards to their mental health and wellbeing?
- How to promote and integrate young people in rural areas?
- How to promote better nationally the programmes and services the EU offers for the development of young people?
- What is the best way to achieve equality and inclusion of marginalised groups?
- How can we further progress youth democratic participation?
On Wednesday 14th November, the Youth Select Committee launched its report investigating the barriers faced by young people across the country in accessing quality work experience.
The report, titled ‘Realising the Potential of Work Experience’ is being launched in advance of a government response, and forms part of the UK Parliament Week festival. Work experience was chosen as the topic of the inquiry following thousands of votes in the 2017 Make Your Mark ballot, designed to give young people a voice.
Earlier this year a YouGov poll revealed over two-thirds of young people (71 per cent) are expecting it to be tougher to find a job in 2030 with 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds citing a lack of work experience as a barrier. The report launch comes at a time when House of Commons figures reveal almost half a million young people are unemployed.
The Committee’s key findings and recommendations include:
- Access to work experience remains patchy and inconsistent despite recent reforms.
- Who you are, where you live and where you go to school is associated with the kind and quality of work experience that you are likely to access.
- The Department for Education’s current approach of using benchmarks and working with the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) to improve quality is promising, however, this has not yet resulted in high-quality support becoming available for all young people.
- The Department for Education must commission a full, independent review into the CEC’s impact on access to work experience for the most disadvantaged young people.
- Government needs to do more to integrate work experience—in all its forms—with its industrial strategy.
- Government should work with schools, business and young people to develop a quality benchmarking scheme for businesses offering work experience.
Claudia Quinn, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “Following our extensive inquiry, we have concluded the Government need to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people’s access to work experience.
“The Government must act now to ensure the most disadvantaged young people can access high-quality work experience.”
Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “From questioning business leaders to charity experts, the Youth Select Committee spent months investigating how high-quality work experience can help future-proof the UK’s economy. The result is a detailed report which again shows how essential the committee is in representing the views of our country’s future, now more than ever.
“I am delighted to see the launch of this report, and I am confident my Parliamentary colleagues will consider its conclusions. I am also certain it will provide an invaluable contribution to the wider discussions in this area.”
The Youth Select Committee is a joint initiative between UK Parliament and the British Youth Council, it gives young people from across the country the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics of importance to them. The eleven committee members are aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on work experience was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including leaders from the worlds of business, politics and the charity sector. Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee heard evidence inside a Committee Room in Parliament, which is normally reserved for MPs, and their report will now be sent to the Government for an official response.
Following the UK Youth Parliament’s takeover of the House of Commons chamber, the British Youth Council is saddened to learn of the abuse being aimed at Members of Youth Parliament on social media. The British Youth Council feel this abuse has no place in political debate.
On Friday 9th November 2018, Members of the UK Youth Parliament gathered from across the UK to debate in the House of Commons chamber. Ending knife crime, mental health, ‘equal pay, for equal work’, tackling homelessness and ‘votes at 16’ were all topics of debate. Each topic was chosen in a record-breaking ballot of more than 1.1 million young people. At the end of the day, they marked the Representation of the People Act 1918 which granted the vote to some women and all men.
Commenting on the abuse, Jo Hobbs, Chief Executive of the British Youth Council, the charity which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said “The British Youth Council will always encourage political debate. We feel it’s imperative young people are given the opportunity to discuss their opinions. Which are valid and should be listened to. We believe in a world in which every young person is empowered to create social and political change.
“Staff at the British Youth Council were alarmed to learn about the tirade of abuse aimed at Members of Youth Parliament. We feel this abuse is wrong and should be condemned publicly.
“We were saddened to learn that some of the abuse contained threats of violence and homophobic language which should have no place on social media platforms. The British Youth Council is committed to the implementation of equal opportunities throughout its work. In its meetings, activities, services and as an employer, we feel no person should be discriminated against.
“The British Youth Council affirms that it has a role in combating discrimination throughout society, as all forms of discrimination form a barrier to participation. It also calls upon its member organisations to actively address and positively support these issues within their own structures.
“We are proud of the diversity of the UK Youth Parliament. Members of Youth Parliament widely represent the changing face of modern Britain. 55% of the Members of the Youth Parliament are female, 30% are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, 24% identify as lesbian, bisexual or gay and 22% consider themselves disabled.”
Jo went on to say: “We also found comments levelled at the appearance of Members of Youth Parliament, revealing much more still needs to be done by social media platforms to ensure this kind of abuse is not deemed acceptable or normalised.
“Last year the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee ruled body dissatisfaction was having a detrimental effect on young people with long-lasting consequences for health, education and wider life outcomes. Whilst it was clear social media companies had taken some steps to mitigate the negative effects of their platforms, they are still not taking their responsibilities seriously enough.”
In November 2017, the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee concluded body dissatisfaction causing long-lasting consequences for young people.
The British Youth Council would encourage anyone receiving abuse on social media to make reports to the social media platforms using the tools available. The British Youth Council would also encourage people to make reports to their local police service if they feel the abuse amounts to a criminal offence.
The British Youth Council have made a series of reports to Twitter detailing the abuse, threats and homophobic language being used.
Anyone experiencing bullying online or abuse should use the support centre developed by the Diana Award which offers advice and support on a number of issues. The Diana Award is urging schools to celebrate what makes pupils unique during Anti-Bullying Week which takes place from Monday 12th-17th November 2018. Anti-Bullying Week is designed to inspire young people to stand up to bullying in schools and to create a robust anti-bullying culture that is safe for all.
UK Youth Parliament has chosen to focus on lowering the voting age to 16 and knife crime in 2019. The decision came following the UK Youth Parliament’s tenth House of Commons debate which was chaired by the Speaker, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. Knife crime was declared a top concern in the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot of over 1.1 million young people.
Votes at 16 continues to be an important issue for young people and has been voted as a campaign priority for the third year in a row. Alex McDermott, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire who spoke on the issue of lowering the voting age said “Votes at 16 continues to be high on the agenda for young people.
“Young people have spoken out on this issue for long enough. It’s time for the Government to listen to young people and lower the voting age to 16”
Imogen White, Member of Youth Parliament for Member of Youth Parliament for Essex, who spoke on a knife which was chosen as the priority campaign for England, said: “Knife crime is the largest concern of young people across the UK. Young people shouldn’t have to fear for their lives or feel they have to turn to violent weapons just to feel safe in their communities.
“The knife crime epidemic is crippling our nation and the Government must do everything in their power to protect young people.”
Members of Parliament from across the House of Commons responded to the news.
Norman Lamb MP, Member of Parliament for North Norfolk said: “Soaring knife crime is destroying the safety and fabric of our communities, with teenagers and young people most at risk.
“The number of fatal stabbings rose by 16% in England and Wales between 2015 and 2017, while new NHS figures show that 13 people on average were admitted to hospital every day following a knife attack last year.
“The Government must do more to tackle this crisis, but extra policing alone is not the answer. We need a public health approach that tackles the root causes of violent crime, including investment in community services designed to prevent youth violence and support those who are at risk of offending. This is a major concern for young people across the country and I welcome that the UK Youth Parliament is treating it as a priority.”
Vicky Foxcroft MP, Member of Parliament for Lewisham, who attended the House of Commons Sitting said: “I was pleased to hear that the UK Youth Parliament were discussing knife crime in Parliament.
“In September I was fortunate enough to meet London members of the Youth Parliament in Westminster to discuss the work we’ve been doing on the Youth Violence Commission.
“Their knowledge and passion on how we tackle knife crime was so clear. They recognised the importance of early intervention and prevention and showed a real understanding of how the public health model works and what it can deliver.
“Their views on how knife crime affects them and their communities should rightly be heard by all politicians.”
Ross Thomson MP, Member of Parliament for Aberdeen South, said:
“It is striking that knife crime has emerged as the top issue identified by young people in this survey.
“In my constituency of Aberdeen South, a teenager was killed at school in an incident involving a knife three years ago.
“It is up to MPs from all parties to do what they can to reduce the risk of future incidents.
“That means educating young people about the dangers of knives and changing the law where appropriate. For example, I have been supportive of moves to tighten up legislation around the sale of weapons online.
“This is an issue where MPs from across the house should be working together to address this growing problem affecting our young people.”
Members of Youth Parliament are set to formally launch the campaigns during their day of action in January 2019. UK Youth Parliament will now begin to develop campaign actions for the campaigns ahead.
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.”