British Youth Council members have chosen to prioritise mental health, votes at 16, and youth services as campaigns for 2016. During each year-long campaign, we’ll be building on the successes of our current mental health campaign, refreshing our campaign effort to save youth services across the country and reminding the Government why we think it’s important 16 and 17 year olds are given the opportunity to vote in all UK public elections and referenda.
The three issues, which were voted as priorities by our members, will build on the work we’ve done with partners to advance each campaign to a new level of debate. Our mental health campaign, which has included an in-depth inquiry into led by the Youth Select Committee on ‘Young People’s Mental Health’, will continue to target Government and local commissioners for further funding and better services for children and young people up and down the country. The Government has promised a formal response.
In our campaign to lower the voting age to 16, we aim to remind politicians of the precedent set by the Scottish Referendum which saw record levels of 16 and 17 year olds across Scotland voting for the very first time in history. This year we’re hoping the common sense argument will prevail – that alongside a ‘curriculum for life’ with citizenship/political education and easy voter registration, votes at 16 is good for the future of democracy. We believe there is growing support amongst Members of Parliament, as this becomes an question of equal rights (with Scotland) as well as good governance. You can find out more about votes at 16 and the coalition on our brand new website.
Lastly, in our campaign to save youth services, we aim to work closely with the national and local government to ensure that youth services are a core priority across the country despite the cuts to local authority budgets. We will also explore and encourage local partnerships involving young people to propose pragmatic solutions where there is unmet need.
Commenting on the new campaigns, Jon Foster, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It’s absolutely imperative that we continue to be a loud voice on mental health and wellbeing, lowering the voting age to 16 and youth services. We’ll need to work hard to ensure all three issues are kept fully on the agendas of decision makers in the country because these are the issues that young people really care about!”
In the coming months we’ll be forming new partnerships and campaign actions to ensure mental health and wellbeing, the voting age and save our services are highlighted at every opportunity throughout the year.