Press releases to journalists.
UK Youth Parliament will launch its annual ballot of young people on the 1st November 2020 as part of UK Parliament Week. The nation-wide ballot gives young people aged 11-18 the opportunity to shortlist the topics they feel are the most important issues facing young people across the UK.
Young people’s views will be gathered as part of a month-long campaign delivered by the British Youth Council in partnership with UK Parliament. The campaign, which has been running since 2011, has reached millions of young people with more than 850,000 young people from every corner of the country taking part in the Autumn of 2019. In previous years, shortlisted issues have been debated in the House of Commons chamber by Members of Youth Parliament.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, the youth-led charity which coordinates UK Youth Parliament said: “Make Your Mark is an important opportunity for young people to be clear with decision makers about their priorities. Despite the global outbreak of Coronavirus, young people remain passionate about their communities and the world we live in.
“We’re delighted to be working with UK Parliament to deliver, what has become a milestone opportunity, to influence decision making at a local and national level. ”
Commenting on the partnership, David Clark, Head of Education and Engagement at UK Parliament said: “We’re excited to be supporting again the UK Youth Parliament with their annual Make Your Mark Campaign.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people to engage in democracy and have their say on issues they care about the most. We look forward to be it being part of UK Parliament Week which starts on the 1st November 2020”
This year’s campaign will see Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the nation, invite young people to take this opportunity to have their say, influence the government and the decision-makers in their communities. Schools, colleges and youth groups who wish to participate in this year’s Make Your Mark campaign can register to take part. Schools and colleges have been an integral part of getting young people involved throughout previous campaigns.
The British Youth Council welcomes the Chancellor’s latest announcement in Parliament confirming the government’s £2bn “kick start” scheme. Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the government’s plan to launch the new fund with the intention of creating more jobs for young people by subsiding wages for up-to six months.
Research from the Resolution Foundation claims young people have been more likely to lose work since the outbreak of Coronavirus. One-third of 18-24 year old employees have lost jobs or been furloughed, compared to one-in-six prime-age adults. Similarly, 35 per cent of non-full-time student 18-24-year-old employees are earning less than they did prior to the outbreak.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Young people have been significantly affected by the impact of Coronavirus, with many losing their jobs, some earning much less and others being put on furlough.
“This is a welcome move from the government to get young people working, and the Chancellor must go further if we are to address the significant impact Coronavirus is having on young people.”
The National Youth Council, also welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to encourage businesses to hire more young apprentices, with a new payment of £2,000. The British Youth Council believes this will allow young people the opportunity to learn about working life and the working environment and to gain experience in particular jobs. However, the government will need to do more if it is to truly to support the prosperity of young people. To fully support young people, the government should compel businesses to comply with the living wage as set-out by the Living Wage Foundation. All work must at the very least provide a route out of poverty and this cannot be done when young people are significantly underpaid.
The British Youth Council were reassured to see measures announced that would encourage business to provide work experience to trainees but urged the government to ensure the recovery from the crisis isn’t placed on the shoulders of young people. Unless young people are also paid a living wage for the work that they are doing as a part of this programme, this may become an attempt to take the work of young people and exploit it for the benefit of everyone else. The government must ensure young people will see the benefit of the £1,000 investment, but it must all assure young people that these opportunities are meaningful and inclusive.
The youth-led charity has been highlighting the impact Coronavirus has had on young people living across the UK. Speaking on behalf of its members, the charity asserts that young people must continue to have a voice within this crisis so multitude of issues they’re facing can be addressed.
The government have been urged by the British Youth Council’s Youth Steering Group to collaborate with young people to tackle the climate change emergency. The group have stated a youth engagement strategy, designed in collaboration with a diverse range of young people and organisations, should be established if the government want to tackle climate change effectively.
The report, which was submitted to officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will be used to aid decision-making on the government’s plan to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050. Last year, climate change was declared the biggest issue facing young people in a nationwide ballot of more than 825,000 young people.
Liv Eren, a member of the Youth Steering Group said: “If the government wants to tackle the climate change emergency, it must work with young people to address it. Our group have worked to come up with a comprehensive report that should help the government to take the right steps to not only involve young people but also inspire others to take action on this important issue.”
The group recommends that young people are empowered to participate in environmental action without feeling as though it is their responsibility entirely. It also suggests that the government explore the feasibility of developing a network of climate champions who can become strong environmental advocates within their own communities. The recommendations came about following several sessions with senior officials and Ministers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last year.
The Youth Steering Group were established with new funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of a wider effort by the British Youth Council to take young people’s voices to the heart of government. The group of young people aged between 15 and 24 was set up last year to help shape national policy. The youth-led charity has been working with The Mix, Youth Focus North West, Youth Focus: North East and Youth Work Unit in Yorkshire and Humber to deliver the project.
Young people from across the country will be invited to share their views on key issues with the government using a new digital platform launched today (2 July).
The ‘Involved’ Instagram page will be a major step in engaging young people aged 13-25 around decisions made at the heart of government, by asking questions through the app’s polling and stories functions.
Responses will then feed directly into live public consultations and wider policy making across government departments.
The tool, supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and managed by the British Youth Council, has been designed by a group of 30 young people aged between 15 and 24 set up last year to offer a youth perspective on decisions made in government.
The Youth Steering Group has already provided valuable advice to Ministers on issues including youth violence, volunteering, youth services and the coronavirus outbreak.
In the coming weeks young people will be invited to respond to a range of questions on the ‘Involved’ page regarding the impact coronavirus has had on their lives.
For example, young people will be asked how they feel about social distancing measures, what support they would like in accessing information about coronavirus and what extra help they feel they need during this time.
Harley Taylor, of the Youth Steering Group, said: “Young people are passionate about seeing social change in their communities and must be able to participate in the decision making of government. Involved will serve as an important opportunity to gauge young people’s views on the hot topics within government.”
Baroness Barran, Minister for Civil Society said: “Young people often feel like it is hard to get their voices heard. Involved will give them an easy way to contribute their views on issues that matter to them, helping our decisions as Ministers to reflect these better.
“This commitment to involve young people’s views in policymaking is part of our ambitious, long-term plan to support them to thrive as we rebuild and recover from the coronavirus outbreak.”
The tool follows the Chancellor’s announcement last year of a £500 million Youth Investment Fund for the five years from April 2020, to give young people somewhere to go, something positive to do and someone to speak to.
The Youth Steering Group is currently recruiting for new members. Young people aged 16-25 are encouraged to apply in writing, by video message or voice note. Get in touch for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications close on 12th July 2020.
The British Youth Council express discomfort and dismay at the murder of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis. The UK Government must directly call out the abhorrent murder of another black person in the United States but it must also take steps to address deep-rooted racism in the UK. The statement follows widespread calls for an end to police brutality against black Americans.
The British Youth Council believes that black young people living in the UK should be treated equally in our communities and in society, stressing that the law should ensure this is the case. The youth-led charity repeats calls for the government to address racism in the UK. According to the charities own research, racism remains a prevalent issue in the lives of young people. The charity also found people’s attitudes towards racism have become normalised, suggesting the government needs to do more to address racism.
Larissa Kennedy, Trustee of the British Youth Council said: “Black young people continue to face the abhorrent scourge of racism, and despite having rights enshrined in law, racism continues to remain prevalent in everyday life of many people living in the UK.
“Young people have repeatedly made demands for political action on this issue and yet we have not seen any meaningful changes. From the police brutality that has taken Black lives, to the Windrush scandal and the hostile environment that has destroyed Black communities, it is clear that change is needed. It’s with that in mind, that this government must take steps to address deep-rooted racism in the UK because black young people deserve better.”
The British Youth Council are also concerned to learn about the findings of Public Health England’s investigation into the disproportionate number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic deaths during the outbreak of Coronavirus. The report concludes there were a combination of factors but explicitly states that the impact Coronavirus has replicated existing health inequalities and, in some cases, has increased them. The national youth council, which is mandated by the views of its members, calls on the government to make a comprehensive response to the report, taking direct action to address the issues that have been highlighted.
The British Youth Council is calling for the government to address some of the issues that have become more prevalent as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. Decision makers up and down the country must make provisions to ensure young people’s voices are heard so issues which have been highlighted by the current crisis can be resolved.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Young people remain passionate about seeing social and political change for their communities, and now is not the time to ignore their voices.
“As the government continues to make unprecedented decisions that affect the lives of young people, the government must make attempts to speak directly with young people and address the issues that affect them.”
The youth-led charity stands in support of all of the key workers across the UK, particularly those working for the NHS, striving to provide essential services and keep us safe. Early indications since the global spread of Coronavirus, suggest the inequalities faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people across our health service remain an issue. The British Youth Council continues to believe health care settings should remain a safe, suitable and youth-friendly environment where possible. The current crisis has highlighted the ways in which chronic underfunding has led to inequalities in access to health care. Young people in insecure work and those who are socially and geographically isolated remain a concern for our members. We can not forget to address these issues of access and inequality in the wake of Coronavirus.
The crisis has further highlighted the need for increased mental health support for young people. The British Youth Council calls on the UK Government to create an open door policy within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. This approach would ensure that young people experiencing a mental health crisis can always access the support they need. We call for mental health support which is age-appropriate, youth-friendly and accessible both locally and nationally for 16-25 year olds.
Further to the vital work of our health service, in recent weeks there has been a huge uptake in applications for Universal Credit. In the last two weeks of March, almost a million people successfully applied for Universal Credit. Families will be facing extra financial burdens at this time with children out of school and changes in employment for parents and young people themselves. The British Youth Council believes that now is the time for the UK Government to increase support for child benefits and increase the rate received for younger children to the same rate received for the oldest child. Raising the child benefit level for the younger children in a large family is a simple and direct way of increasing vital support at a time of increased financial strain. This is particularly pertinent because larger families are more likely to be in poverty. Young people and families who have been placed under additional stress due to Coronavirus require this additional support.
We believe all of these issues could be more easily addressed if the government created a Minister for Young People. The creation of this ministerial position would ensure that someone within government was always seeking to bring youth voice into policymaking. We call on the government to immediately appoint a Minister for Young People who will be able to listen to the voices of young people and take real action to address their concerns.
The British Youth Council continue to closely monitor developments relating to the spread of the Coronavirus, taking particular interest in the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, the UK Government, and Public Health England.
The health and safety of young people, our staff and volunteers remain of the utmost importance to the British Youth Council and we will continue to ensure we have considered any risks to our activities. With this in mind, we are undertaking proactive decision making about all our upcoming events and activities and will be redesigning our work to be delivered digitally wherever possible to ensure some continuity for young people.
The country is currently facing unprecedented circumstances, however, it remains important that we continue to empower young people to create social and political change.
A spokesperson for the British Youth Council said: “We are committed to ensuring that young people across the UK to have a say, however, it is imperative that we take reasonable and proportionate steps to mitigate the to risk young people, our staff and volunteers.
“It is still imperative for young people to continue to have a say on the decision that affect their lives throughout the period where possible.
The British Youth Council will give any further updates regarding its events, residentials and activities on our below
The youth-led charity also acknowledges the hardship people will face during this period and calls on the government to ensure young people and families facing the most difficulty are supported to the fullest extent possible.
Other announcementsDuring this period we will keep this article updated within any new announcements:
The British Youth Council would recommend following the advice of Public Health England.
- #YouthWorkSupport is now live and accessible for our sector to access. The site has been developed to provide a SINGLE point of access for information for youth workers and those working with young people. Some resources have been rapidly developed by both teams at our organisations as well as by partners. A massive collaborative effort to support our sector to meet the challenges young people will face over the coming weeks and months due to COVID-19.
On Wednesday 12th February, the Youth Select Committee launched its report investigating the knife crime ‘epidemic’ in the UK. The Committee has ruled cuts to important and arguably life-saving services for vulnerable young people have caused a rise in knife crime.
The report, titled ‘Our Generation’s Epidemic: Knife Crime’ is being launched by members of the Committee at a special House of Commons reception in anticipation of a government response. Knife crime was investigated following a 2018 UK-wide ballot of 1.1 million young people aged 11 to 18, in which young people declared knife crime their biggest concern.
Knife crime offences are reportedly at their highest in a decade, according to official figures from the Ministry of Justice. Research from the House of Commons Library also showed that knife crime, particularly where it affects young people, has been a ‘persistent and growing concern’ for successive governments.
The Committee’s key findings and recommendations include:
- Inequality within communities and difference in opportunities provided across the country makes some young people particularly vulnerable to the draw of violence and gangs. The Government should develop a plan with clear targets and deadlines aimed at tackling the injustices which make a young person more vulnerable to knife crime.
- The Government should develop long-term funding plans of at least 5 years to develop effective ways of helping and reaching young people at risk of getting involved in knife crime.
- The Government should ensure that the views of young people and those with lived experience of knife crime is embedded into the Serious Violence Strategy.
- School exclusion should be the last step in a long line of disciplinary measures, and schools should be held accountable for their exclusions.
- The Government should roll back the extension of stop and search powers until the disproportionate targeting of Black men has been addressed.
- The Government should clarify its position on short term custodial sentences for young people who carry knives and to consider whether there is another approach that could more effectively deter young people from continued involvement in knife crime.
- The next version of the Serious Violence Strategy should include an increased focus on restorative justice and other informal criminal justice responses as a first step to a young persons involvement in knife crime.
Rachel Ojo, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee are concerned with the government’s increasingly punitive approach to tackling knife crime.
“If the government wishes to confront the fundamental causes of the rise in violent crime amongst young people, it must do more to address and improve the difficult circumstances many young people are facing.”
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee, which is supported by UK Parliament, gives young people the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics that matter to them. The Committee is made up of eleven committee members aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on knife crime was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including leaders from the worlds of criminal justice, 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.
The British Youth Council are urging the UK Government to address the concerns of young people in any further Brexit negotiations. The youth-led charity has repeatedly highlighted the importance of including young people in decisions that will affect their future.
The importance of maintaining funding opportunities, such as the Erasmus+ programme, remains a priority for members of the British Youth Council. Despite reassurances from the Government, the British Youth Council also stressed the importance of young people and youth organisations having access to the same opportunities. The statement was made in response to the Commons vote which took place on Wednesday 8th January 2020, which saw Members of Parliament vote against compelling officials to negotiate continuing full membership of the programme.
A spokesperson for the British Youth Council said: “Young people’s voices need to be heard in the future Brexit negotiations, not just as a footnote, but as key stakeholders in the future of the country.
“Moving forward we’d like to see young people more involved in the decision making so we can ensure young people don’t loose out in post-Brexit Britain.”
The charity expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision to ignore calls for a second referendum on the final Brexit Deal. The British Youth Council recognise that in 2016 the majority of young people voted to remain in the European Union. Young people were very concerned about employability prospects, opportunities for young people, threats to our education system and concerns about rising racism and fascism within our society.
Young people aged 16 and 17 were also wrongly excluded from the EU Referendum, according to the national charity. The British Youth Council continues to acknowledge that these young people, all of whom are now eligible to vote, were denied the opportunity to participate despite growing support among politicians from across the political spectrum.
UK Youth Parliament have launched their national campaigns, ‘Protect Our Future’, which demands action to halt the climate emergency and ‘Youth Action on Knife Crime’ which calls on the UK Government to address knife crime as a public health issue. Young people declared climate change a top concern with knife crime also becoming a priority for the second time.
A Spokesperson for the UK Youth Parliament said: “The climate emergency and knife crime are the biggest issues facing young people and politicians must work to address their concerns with some urgency and with young people’s voices at the table.”
The climate change campaign recognises the situation will only be improved by the combination of individual action and government-level change. Members of Youth Parliament believe the government must act to halt the impact of climate change. UK Youth Parliament state young people’s voices should be at the heart of decision making as they will be most affected by climate change in the future.
Knife crime remains a priority for the UK Youth Parliament, following a year highlighting the prevalence of knife crime in the UK. This years campaign will continue to back the Youth Violence Commission’s calls for the Government to adopt a public health approach but will also call on the Government to roll back the use of ‘stop and search’ as a method of addressing knife carrying.
Each campaign was chosen following the UK Youth Parliament’s debate within the House of Commons chamber on Friday 8th November 2019.