Details of the countries largest ever youth referendum were released today, detailing priorities and voter turnout by local authority, region and nations across the UK. A record breaking total of 968,091 votes were cast over the summer challenging the myth that young people don’t care or won’t vote. The Living Wage (the real one) topped the poll, followed by Curriculum for Life, Public Transport, Mental Health, and tackling Racism and Religious Discrimination. The ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot, organised by The British Youth Council and UK Youth Parliament, has seen a 10% increase on last years 876,488 votes setting a new record for the biggest youth consultation of its kind in UK history, with nearly 1 in 6 of all young people aged 11-18, taking part.
The ballot of young people, supported by this year by NCS (National Citizen Service), Local Authorities, UK Parliament, 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.
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.
- Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all.
- Mental health. Services should be improved with young people’s help and mental health education should be compulsory and challenge stereotypes.
- 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.
(Pictured: Ciara Brodie, during the 2014 House of Commons Sitting)
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.
Volunteer Democracy: Top turnouts in Blackpool (67%); Orkneys (45%) and West Belfast (44%).
Volunteer Champions Magnificent Seven
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Minhaz Abedin, Member of Youth Parliament for Leeds said: “Yet again, Make Your Mark has proven that young people DO care about their future! 968,000 voices will now be part of a formidable movement, creating campaigns that will change the lives of many. The best part? It was young people who took that extra step, actively seeking out a way to be heard. That is why I want to say thank you to everyone who took part, for not only inspiring me but for empowering the rest of your generation. Let’s go and create positive change and make our mark!”
This year’s youth parliamentarians are due to be addressed by Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society who has been a keen supporter of the Make Your Mark campaign for the past two years.
(Pictured: Rob Wilson MP, supporting Make Your Mark campaign at Parliament)
Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society said: “Thanks to the incredible work of individuals, schools and youth organisations up and down the country, a record number of young people across the UK have ‘Made their Mark’, helping us to build a stronger society”
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!”
The debates will be concluded with a vote to decide on which issues should become the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaign in 2015/ 16.