Press releases to journalists.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has expressed disappointment at the government’s continued punitive approach to knife crime. In response to the Youth Select Committee’s knife crime report, the government have laid out their plans to combat the knife crime epidemic.
Responding to the report, the government stated it was ‘determined to tackle the scourge of serious violence’. The Committee has scrutinised the response and welcomes the government’s investment in Violence Reduction Units. It also applauded the government’s commitment to listening to the wider community including young people as part of the Serious Violence Strategy.
In response, the Government committed to tackling violent crime, including addressing key drivers of crime and diverting people away from involvement in serious violence. The Government emphasised targeted investment in early intervention programmes that will help young people, as well as initiatives to support youth workers, ex-offenders and those who have been expelled from school.
However, the committee is concerned to learn the government has ignored many of the recommendations made by the group of young people. Following the response, the committee wishes to reiterate some of their key recommendations and underline the importance of meaningfully engaging young people in decision making.
The committee recommends:
- The Committee were particularly disappointed to see the government taking steps to introduce the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which only serves to extend punitive measures and could take more steps to enshrine preventative measures into law.
- The Government should roll back the extension of stop and search powers until the disproportionate targeting of Black men has been addressed. The Committee is especially concerned that the Serious Violence Reduction Order, which gave police personalised powers to target “proven criminals”, may lead to greater targeting of Black men; this power will make it easier to stop and search with no immediate reason.
- 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 has highlighted welcome investment for the youth sector but, in their response to the Committee’s report, has not set out a strategy for how they will address the systemic issues which trap young people in a cycle of violence.
- The Government should commit to long term funding plans of at least 5 years to ensure partners are able to develop effective ways of helping young people at risk of knife crime. The Committee noted that many of the interventions highlighted in their response were only funded over 1-3 years.
- The Government should continue to work to ensure that the views of young people and those with lived experience of knife crime is embedded into the Serious Violence Strategy.
Commenting on the government’s response to the report on knife crime, Rachel Ojo, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee is very pleased to have finally received a response from the Government – over a year after our report was released.
“The issue of violent knife crime is one of the biggest facing young people in this country and we are glad that some of our recommendations have been agreed to. However, we feel the government could be doing much more and we implore the government to act on their commitment, to ensure that tackling knife crime is not only top of their agenda but that preventative measures take priority.”
Knife crime continues to be a significant issue in England and Wales, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics. 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 response from the Home Office has been issued following the committees thorough inquiry. Knife crime was examined following a UK-wide ballot of 1.1 million young people aged 11 to 18, in which young people declared knife crime their biggest concern. Subsequently the investigation concluded knife crime was fuelled by cuts to important and arguably life-saving public services for vulnerable young people. The committee concluded that socio-economic factors are crucial in making some young people vulnerable to violence, gangs and knife crime and highlighted the need for better services to reach those at risk.
The Youth Select Committee, which is supported by UK Parliament and the British Youth Council, 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.
The British Youth Council are delighted to welcome the news, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, formerly Chair of the British Youth Council, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Amanda has been awarded a BEM for her continued work uplifting the voices of young people in communities.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson BEM, started her tenure as trustee of the British Youth Council in 2017. Amanda was then elected Chair by our members in 2018, finishing her term in 2020. During her 3 years at the youth-led charity, the British Youth Council, she was known for her dedication and service to young people across the country.
Commenting on the award, Jo Hobbs MBE, Chief Executive of the British Youth Council said “I’m thrilled to learn that Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson has been awarded a BEM. Amanda has been an important voice on our board and as part of the youth voice movement. Amanda played a really key role in steering the charity and making sure we could continue to deliver the important work we do to empower young people in the UK.
“Young people across the country are contributing to social and political change – and I’m proud to see such a fantastic ambassador of social action recognised.”
Responding to the news, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson BEM, former Chair of the British Youth Council, said “It was a lovely surprise and privilege to receive an award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Whilst it’s always nice to receive personal recognition, to me this is a reflection of the numerous excellent individuals and teams I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the last few years, without whom I absolutely would not have been able to do as much work with and for young people.
“I stand with many others, in calling for a recognition in the name of British excellence, and not the British empire. Until we do so, many worthy citizens – in particular younger people – will understandably feel shut out of a system which should be there to honour their good works..”
The British Youth Council’s trustees, who are aged 16-25, are elected by members and appointed to oversee the strategic and financial direction of the charity. The British Youth Council is currently searching for the next young leaders of social and political change.
Yesterday a former US Police Officer was convicted of murder after the death of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis. The verdict, which was a historic moment, comes following almost a year of increased protesting seeking to address police brutality across the globe.
The British Youth Council remains angered by the abhorrent murders of Black Americans in the United States. The youth-led organisation called on decision makers to bring an end to anti-Black police brutality in the UK, as part of wider efforts to address the longstanding problems of racism and injustice.
Grassroots campaigners and young people demand an approach that addresses the root causes of the issues facing Black communities. The British Youth Council further believes we must listen to, and support, Black communities who have outlined how we end the global pandemic of anti-Black police brutality.
Speaking on behalf of the charity, Osaro Otobo, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said: “The death of George Floyd shook people across the globe, and yesterday’s verdict will serve as a historic moment for people for years to come.
“It’s imperative we do not lose sight of the need to continue to address deep-rooted racism in the United States and here in the United Kingdom. If we are to end anti-black police brutality in the UK, we must take steps dismantle and overhaul a system which enables racism and injustice.”
The charity feels it is reductive for representatives of the UK Government to acknowledge these events without recognises the clear evidence of systemic racism in this country too. With this in mind, the national youth council has called on the UK Government to reject the findings in the report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities and acknowledge the deep-rooted and systemic racism in the UK.
The British Youth Council are calling on the UK government to announce its plans to replace significant funding lost since the UK’s exit from the EU. Following the ratification of the new trading and cooperation agreement with the European Union, organisations in the UK have lost access to Erasmus Plus.
The youth-led charity is calling on Ministers to take steps to address the €1 billion shortfall in funding which will affect many organisations across the UK. More than 4,800 UK-based projects were awarded funding between 2014-2018. The EU programme enabled organisations to support young people to develop new skills, gain vital international experience and boost their employability. UK Youth Parliament and UK Young Ambassadors, which are coordinated by the British Youth Council, have both received significant funding and support from the European programme.
Sarah Staples, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It cannot be right that young people have lost out as a result of this new deal with the European Union. Many UK youth organisations will have to scale back their work with young people or stop their work altogether if this funding is not replaced. The government must prioritise creating some certainty for the future of this funding so young people can continue to have access to these opportunities in post-Brexit Britain.”
The programme was also well-known for student exchanges and enabling young people to study, volunteer and gain work experience. Despite promising otherwise, the UK government will no longer participate in any part of the programme. The government have since announced the inception of the Turing scheme, which is due to commence in September 2021, and will allow young people to study and do work placements in other countries. However, the British Youth Council has concerns that without action and a like-for-like replacement for Erasmus Plus young people in the UK will lose access to the informal educational opportunities which they have been able to access until now.
The national youth council has written to Gavin Williamson CBE MP, Secretary of State for Education and Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to urge action so organisations can continue to deliver for young people post-Brexit.
The British Youth Council recognises that the majority of young people voted to remain in the European Union back in 2016. At the time young people were very concerned about employability prospects, opportunities for young people, threats to our education system and rising racism and fascism within our society. The British Youth Council urges the government to work with young people to ensure that they are given a voice on the global stage and to work with them to give them opportunities for education, to build relationships across national and cultural boundaries and to build their employability prospects.
The British Youth Council’s UK Young Ambassadors have conducted an investigation into the challenges for young people trying to secure high-quality jobs. The year-long extensive consultation has found that young people continue to face challenges when trying to access employment.
The report, which was co-funded by the European Union, is published following a series of events, focus groups and a survey. As part of the investigation, the ambassadors looked at the future of work, how education prepares people for the world of work, the social protection that young people need, ensuring jobs for those with additional needs and the role of work experience in accessing the labour market. The group make a series of recommendations to combat what many young people stated was a ‘sense of hopelessness’.
Megan Doherty, UK Youth Ambassador for Northern Ireland said, “Young people face a multitude of issues when they attempt to access the labour market in the UK. If we want to address these issues we must take meaningful steps to combat the concerns young people have highlighted.
“It cannot be right that any young person feels hopeless when thinking about their future career and I hope we’re able to use this report to drive change for our generation of young workers.”
Sarah Staples, Chair, British Youth Council the organisation that runs the programme said: “The work we’ve been doing to platform young people’s voice in Europe remains an important part of ensuring young people have a say in all the decision making.
“Young people across the UK are about to face a very challenging time in the labour market and I’m glad we’ve been able to highlight some of the existing inequalities which will only widen if they’re not combatted as part of our COVID-19 recovery plan.”
Following a nationwide consultation, a free university education has been declared the biggest priority for young people across the UK. The Make Your Mark ballot, which was delivered online, called on young people aged 11-18 to choose which issue they felt was a priority.
More than 180,000 young people took part in the nationwide ballot, showing that when given the opportunity young people will engage in democracy. The Make Your Mark ballot is run by the British Youth Council with support from Local Authorities, schools, UK Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. This year young people were able to vote for two issues, one issue they wanted the UK government or devolved administrations to prioritise and one issue they wanted local authorities to prioritise.
- Free University – We should invest in the young people of today by providing free university.
- Domestic Violence – lockdown has meant that many people have been trapped in homes that are dangerous for them. Families, and especially young people, could have faced more violence in 2020
Sarah Staples, Chair of the British Youth Council, said: “Make Your Mark is a brilliant opportunity for young people to say tell decision makers what they’re passionate about. It’s really important that young people’s voices are not only heard but acted upon!
“Access to universities and domestic violence are of great importance to young people, now I want to see decision makers take action to address these issues.”
The consultation would usually give young people across the country a say on what is to be debated on the green benches of the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament, however, due to the Coronavirus the Commons debate will not take place.
The sitting of Members of Youth Parliament is usually 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.
Member of Youth Parliament will launch their new priority campaigns in early January 2021.
Youth Futures Foundation has announced a new partnership with the British Youth Council to put young people’s voices at the heart of all the not-for-profit’s activities. They are inviting charities and organisations working with young people who face barriers to employment to encourage them to apply.
Eleven young people will form the Future Voices Group, which will work with the staff team and Board of Directors to advise and feed into Youth Futures Foundation’s vision and strategy, the things it funds, its research, communications approach and partnerships.
The British Youth Council has been championing youth voice since its foundation over 70 years ago and will support members of the group. Youth Futures was established in 2019 with a remit to understand and share ‘what works’ to help young people who are most disadvantaged, have equitable access to quality jobs.
Alex Morawski, a Member of the Youth Futures Foundation’s Board of Non-Executive Directors and incoming Chair of the Future Voices Group said: ”The Future Voices Group not only gives young people a seat at the table, it invites them to lead the conversation on youth employment. This is an opportunity for young people to challenge the status quo and for their experiences to inform ambitious changes to remove the barriers to securing meaningful work which so many face.”
Sarah Staples, Chair of the British Youth Council, the charity helping to deliver the programme, said: “The global outbreak of coronavirus and its economic impacts mean unemployment will be a key concern of young people across the country.
“We’re really excited to be working with the Youth Futures Foundations to form the Future Voices Group. It’s really important that young people have an opportunity to influence the conversations surrounding youth unemployment. Young people want to be at the forefront of challenging the many barriers they face when trying to secure a fruitful career.”
Anyone interested in joining the Future Voices Group must be aged between 16 and 24 years, resident in England and have direct or indirect experience of facing barriers to gaining meaningful employment. Examples include being of ethnic minority heritage, a refugee or asylum seeker, having a special educational need, physical disability or long-term health condition or coming from a socio-economically deprived background.
Young people across the UK can now take part in the annual Make Your Mark ballot, the largest UK youth consultation of its kind. The month-long campaign, which launches as part of UK Parliament Week, will give young people the opportunity to declare the most important issues facing the country.
Make Your Mark gives young people aged 11-18 the chance to select one issue affecting individual nations or the UK and one issue affecting their local communities. For the first time since the campaigns inception, voting will only take place online due to the ongoing outbreak of Coronavirus. The ballot includes issues such as climate change, tackling child poverty, mental health and hate crime.
Speaking on behalf of the UK Youth Parliament, Tessy Idemudia, said: “This is an opportunity for thousands of young people across the country to declare their priorities.
“Decision makers in every corner of the country will have an opportunity to not only listen to the concerns of young people but to act and make a difference. Young people are passionate about the issues that affect them, their families, and their communities. We want this year’s campaign to be a new catalyst for the changes we wish to see in the world.”
Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran said: “It’s more important than ever that we look out for our young people and in these challenging times, we want to make it easier for them to get their voices heard.
“The Make Your Mark ballot is a great way for young people to contribute their views on the big issues of the day, helping government to better reflect these in our decision making.”
This year’s nationwide campaign, which has taken place since 2011, is supported by the British Youth Council, UK Parliament and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The campaign is expected to reach thousands of young people with Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, inviting young people to take this opportunity to influence the government and decision makers in their communities. The results of the campaign will be brought to the attention of UK Government Ministers including Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran MBE, who is responsible for youth policy.
The British Youth Council is calling on decision makers to bring an end to anti-Black police brutality in the UK, in an effort to address the longstanding problems of racism, injustice and police violence. The impassioned plea was announced following the British Youth Council’s Annual Council Meeting, where members voted to actively support the movement for Black lives among many other important issues facing young people across the nation.
The youth-led charity, demands the UK government, Members of Parliament and other elected representatives address the solutions brought forward by grassroots campaigners and young people speaking out for an approach which addresses the root causes of the issues facing Black communities. The renewed and refined calls from the official national youth council come following a recent survey showing four out of five black Britons felt there was racial bias in UK policing.
Larissa Kennedy, Trustee of the British Youth Council said: “Anti-Black police brutality must come to an end in the UK but this can’t happen without a complete overhaul of the way we deliver public safety or without addressing the multitude of issues facing Black communities right across the country. We must recognise that more officers, arms, jails and prisons are not a solution to longstanding problems of racism, injustice and police violence.
“Decision makers must take steps to address the issues we face if they truly believe Black Lives Matter.”
Earlier in the summer, the British Youth Council expressed its discomfort and dismay at the murder of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis, calling on the UK Government to directly call out the abhorrent murder of another black person in the United States. It also stated the government must take steps to address deep-rooted racism in the UK.
More information about the new policies ratified by its members at the British Youth Council’s Annual Council Meeting will be available in the coming weeks.
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.