The British Youth Council and UK Youth Parliament released details today (Friday 16thOctober) of their largest ever youth referendum ballot of issues to be debated in the House Of Commons by young elected representatives. Living Wage (the real one) topped the poll, followed by Curriculum for Life, Mental Health, Public Transport, and tacking Racism and Religious Discrimination.
This years campaign has seen a 10% increase on last year (877,488 votes) setting a new record for the biggest youth consultation 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, supported by this year by NCS Trust (National Citizen Service), Local Authorities, Parliament, The British Youth Council and the Cabinet Office gives young people across the country a say on what is to be debated to be a priority campaign by their Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) in their annual House of Commons debate, to held this year on 13th November.
The five issues that received the most votes in the ballot are:
- Living Wage. Everyone should be able to live comfortably. Everyone aged 16 or over should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.85 per hour (£9.15 in London). (The ‘Living Wage’ as devised by the Living Wage Foundation.)
- A Curriculum to prepare us for life. Schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum.
- Mental health. Services should be improved with young people’s help and mental health education should be compulsory and challenge stereotypes.
- Transport. Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all.
- Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish.All young people should work together to combat racism and other forms of discrimination, and ensure we know the dangers of such hatred.
Each issue ranked most important to young people will become the topics of debate within the chamber on Friday 13th November during the UK Youth Parliament’s sixth 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 sitting of youth parliamentarians 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 2016.
Ciara Brodie,  Procedures Group representative for North West, UK Youth Parliament said: “This is yet more proof that if you give young people the opportunity to have their voices heard they’ll jump at the opportunity! Every year the Make Your Mark campaign creates such a buzz, and its so inspiring to see so many young people involved! I’d like to thank every single young person who took part, this is just the beginning of our journey lobbying for change for and with our peers!”
Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said: “This number of ballots represents the phenomenal efforts Members of Youth Parliament, their peers, schools and our partners have made up and down the country to ensure young people have a chance to tell us exactly what the UK Youth Parliament should be prioritising. Members of Youth Parliament can now walk into the commons armed with a massive mandate for debate and I can’t wait to see them in action next month!”
Members of Parliament from across the House rallied on College Green outside Parliament in support of the launch of the Make Your Mark campaign. Minister for Youth, Rob Wilson MP and newly appointed Shadow Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton MP were among some of the MPs who attended our Parliament launch. This follows our initial launch appealing to young people (aged 11-18 years old) to take part in ‘Make Your Mark’ its annual ballot of young people living in the UK.
The Make Your Mark ballot contains 10 policies voted for by Members of Youth Parliament including poverty, mental health, curriculum, climate change and votes at 16 (for full list see notes) and have reflected their election pledges in local elections across the UK. The campaign will see Members and Volunteer Campaigners across the country, inviting young people in schools and youth clubs to take this opportunity to have their say to Government and society.
The photo call, which will see Members of Parliament taking part before and after our first Prime Ministers Questions of the term will take place on College Green, Westminster between 9am and 3pm with peaks at 9:30am, 11:00am, 12:45pm and 1.30pm.
This year’s campaign, supported by the NCS (National Citizen Service), aims to reach 1 million young people and break last year’s record 876,488 young people taking part. The ballot will contain 10 policies that address the key issues facing young people in the UK, which Members of Youth Parliament have championed and shaped on behalf of local constituencies.
The aim of the exercise is to bring these issues to the attention of Government Ministers, including the Minister for Civil Society / and Youth Policy who will attend and reply on behalf of the Government. The Commons debate will be chaired by The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who recently opened the UK Youth Parliament in Exeter at its Annual Sitting (which meets alternately outside London). Young members will then walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should be a become their priority campaigns for 2015/16. In previous years they have chosen Living Wage, Votes at 16, Education and Transport and Mental Health.
Young people can take part in the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
James Cathcart, Chief Executive of the British Youth Council, which manages the UK Youth Parliament and the campaign said: “This is the biggest youth ballot in the UK and Europe – when over a million are expected to ask the Government to listen to their concerns. Young people do care, are active, want change – and have something to say. Lets listen. Its great that nearly 100 MPs are supporting this launch from across parties. We ask that they will also take the results seriously and debate the issues in Parliament.”
Minhaz Abedin, Member of Youth Parliament for Leeds said: “This is a huge opportunity for young people to have their voice heard! For too long politicians have ignored the voice of young people but now we have a platform they can’t ignore. The more voices we canvas and listen to, the harder it’ll be for anyone to ignore us. I can’t wait to see the chamber packed with MYPs that are there with one purpose; to voice the opinion of young people.”
This year’s Youth Parliament, which itself was elected in local elections by 100,000s teenagers, is expected to be one of the most diverse collection of representatives to sit on the green benches ever – with representation for women, ethnic minorities, and faiths. The young elected reps, aged 12-18, include many facing the very day to day challenges that their campaigns seek to address.
The British Youth Council has been shortlisted for a Charity Times Award under ‘Campaigning Team of the Year’. The nomination recognises the young volunteers, stakeholders and staff who were part of last years successful UK Youth Parliament Make Your Mark campaign which saw over 875,000 young people have their say on the issues they felt should be debated in the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament.
The UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark campaign has triamphed every year with this year’s campaign set to reach 1 million young people from across the UK. This follows last years increase of 81% cementing Make Your Mark’s position as the largest youth consultation of its kind in the UK. The Make Your Mark campaign gives young people a say on what is discussed by their Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) in their annual House of Commons debate.
The Charity Times Awards continue to be the pre-eminent celebration of best practice in the UK charity and not-for-profit sector. Now in their sixteenth year, the awards are run by Charity Times Magazine – the leading title for UK non-profit professionals. Last year’s event was attended by more than 700 of the sector’s finest. This year’s winners will be announced at the Charity Times Awards Gala Dinner & Ceremony on the 7 October 2015at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London.
Mita Desai, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark campaign is the single largest referendum of young people in the UK and year on year its reached more and more young people so I’m delighted to see the efforts of so many people recognised and celebrated.”
Mark Evans, Publishing Director, Charity Times Awards said: “This annual celebration places the spotlight on the hard work and achievements of the sector. Universally recognised as the pinnacle of success, the Charity Times Awards really are the measure of professionalism combined with passion. The record number of entries demonstrates that the sector is in good hands, and at a time when good news about charities seems in short supply winning this accolade not only recognises an outstanding contribution to the sector, but also demonstrates the sector’s vital contribution to society and we look forward to celebrating that in October.”