Press releases to journalists.
UK Youth Parliament have launched their campaign, ‘Action Against Knife Crime’, which calls for a significant reduction in knife crime across the UK. 1.1 million young people declared knife crime a top concern in the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot. The organisation will also reignite its long-standing campaign for a lower voting age of 16.
The anti-knife crime campaign aims to highlight the prevalence of knife crime, which claimed the lives of 37 children and young people in England & Wales last year. ‘Action Against Knife Crime’, which was prioritised at the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting, demands the Government combat violence through education in schools and community groups. UK Youth Parliament are working in partnership ‘No Knives, Better Lives’, a national programme in Scotland that aims to deter young people from carrying knives, to deliver the campaign.
Commenting on the partnership, Emily Beever, Senior Development Officer at YouthLink Scotland, the charity which coordinates ‘No Knives, Better Lives’ said: “We are really excited to be working in partnership with the British Youth Council on their Action Against Knife Crime campaign.
“No Knives, Better Lives has been working to prevent knife crime in Scotland for nearly 10 years and from our experience, we know young people are passionate about making change in their communities and stopping knife crime.“
“It will be amazing to see Members of Youth Parliament up and down the country engaging with this campaign and influencing decision makers.”
Members of Youth Parliament are also calling for the Government to review its current approach, after failed attempts to use increased stop and search to address the issue. In November 2018, the Centre for Crime and Justice published research concluding stop and search had no real impact on reducing knife crime.
UK Youth Parliament have backed Youth Violence Commission’s calls for the Government to adopt a public health approach. The World Health Organisation has also concluded a public heath approach is necessary to combat the multifactorial causes of violence. WHO reiterate the need for ‘collective action’ and acknowledge “violence of all sorts is strongly associated with social determinants”.
Busayo Oyedoyin, Member of Youth Parliament for Hackney, who has been campaigning on the issue said “Mental and physical health, education, youth services, social media and community outreach must be prioritised in order to tackle the issues underpinning knife crime.
“We believe knife crime must be categorised as a public health issue. This approach would allow different agencies and services to come together to tackle the issue properly. The Government must do everything in its power to address this issue promptly.”
The campaign has already captured the support of Members of UK Parliament from across the House of Commons. Members of Youth Parliament are due to meet with their local MPs over the coming weeks in an attempt to drive further change through UK Parliament.
UK Youth Parliament reignite demands for a new age for democracy
Members of Youth Parliament will continue their efforts to bring about a lower voting age of 16. Members of Youth Parliament voted to prioritise the campaign at their November sitting in the House of Commons.
The demand for votes at 16 has been a reoccurring issue since 2003. In the UK Youth Parliament’s ballot of young people, the issue has been one of the top issues of 5 occasions since the annual poll launched in 2011. Members of Youth Parliament will be working to gain support from Local Authorities across the UK as a clear indication of increased support across the nations.
Alex McDermott, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire said: “Over one million 16 and 17 year olds continue to be denied a vote in some elections and referenda.
“It seems unjustifiable that we haven’t seen parity across the UK since the introduction of votes at 16 in Scotland, looming plans for its introduction in Wales and growing support from across Parliament. I feel it may be time for the Government to concede that 16 and 17 year olds can no longer be denied the vote.”
The British Youth Council are calling on the Government and prominent campaigners to address the concerns of young people in any new Brexit negotiations or plans. The youth-led charity feels the voices and wishes of young people, in particular, have not reflected in Brexit negotiations up to this point. Therefore, we believe the best way to give young people a clear say on their future is to join the growing campaign, calling on the Government to deliver a People’s Vote on the final Brexit Deal.
A spokesperson for the British Youth Council said: “Young people’s voices are not being heard in the Brexit negotiations. It’s really imperative that the Government commit to listening to young people and their concerns moving forward.
“The British Youth Council also believe the Government should hold a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. This is the biggest political decision of our lifetime and we think its important young people have a clear say on our future.”
The call comes as yet more uncertainty looms over the future of the UK’s relationship with the European Union, with the Government’s proposed withdrawal agreement being voted down by Members of Parliament last week. 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 rising racism and fascism within our society.
The British Youth Council are keen to stress that young people care about their future and should have their issues discussed and addressed. We’ve also made it clear young people should be provided firm reassurance over their futures in the coming months. We believe that the rights of young European citizens living in the UK should be upheld in wake of the Brexit vote as they contribute so much to the UK. We’re joining calls for the government to ensure that the rights of young EU citizens, that have lived in the UK for over a year, to live work and study in the UK remain unchanged by negotiations with the EU.
The importance of maintaining funding opportunities, such as the Erasmus+ programme, has also been raised by British Youth Council members. Young people and youth organisations, both during the withdrawal negotiations and in the framework of the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, should have access to the same opportunities.
Three Members of Youth Parliament have been recognised for their powerful contributions to debates that took place in the House of Commons chamber on Friday 9th November 2018. Each Member of Youth Parliament will be awarded the Paul Boskett Award for their outstanding speeches.
The award was set up in 2014 in memory of Paul Boskett MBE a valued, respected and loved champion of young people’s voices in the UK. Alex McDermott, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire won the award for his opening speech on votes at 16 from the dispatch box of the House of Commons. Cormac Savage, Member of Youth Parliament for South Down in Northern Ireland and Samuel Taylor, Member of Youth Parliament for Blaenau Gwent in Wales were awarded for their backbench contributions. Cormac Savage spoke passionately on tackling homelessness and Samuel Taylor spoke about lowering the voting age to 16.
Commenting on the awards, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, the charity which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “Every year the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons debates are exceptional and this year was no different.
“The passion on display in the chamber is yet more proof that young people are passionate about the future of their communities!”
On Friday 9th November 2018, Members of the UK Youth Parliament gathered from across the UK to debate in the House of Commons chamber. Ending knife crime, mental health, ‘equal pay, for equal work’, tackling homelessness and ‘votes at 16’ were all topics of debate. Each topic was chosen in a record-breaking ballot of more than 1.1 million young people. Members of Youth Parliament are due to formally launch their latest campaigns next week.
WATCH THEIR SPEECHES:
DEBATE LEAD SPEECH: Alex McDermott, Derbyshire
BACKBENCH SPEECH: Cormac Savage, South Down
BACKBENCH SPEECH: Sam Taylor, Blaenau Gwent
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will examine different aspects of the reported knife crime epidemic in its next inquiry. The new committee of eleven young people, which is yet to be appointed, will embark on the inquiry in the Spring of 2019. Over 1.1 million young people declared knife crime their biggest concern in a UK-wide ballot of young people aged 11 to 18.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, the charity which commissioned the ballot, said: “Young people have made it clear knife crime is their greatest concern and it’s imperative we hold decision-makers to account on this issue. The lives of young people are far too important to be ignored. We must work to identify and action the solutions available.
“Young people should have the opportunity to speak out on the knife crime epidemic we are facing. But they must also have a meaningful opportunity to influence the Government’s response.”
Research published by the House of Commons Library in November 2018, stated knife crime, particularly where it affects young people, has been a ‘persistent and growing concern’ for successive governments. The new committee will set out the key areas for exploration prior to seeking written and oral evidence from the public.
Following passionate debates in the House of Commons, Members of Youth Parliament have chosen to campaign on knife crime in 2019. The campaign has already received cross-party support including vocal support from Vicky Foxcroft MP, Chair of the Youth Violence Commission and Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford.
Earlier this year the Youth Select Committee examined the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience. The Committee called on the Government to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people’s access to work experience.
Would you be interested in joining the Youth Select Committee? Apply to join now.
Research carried out by the British Youth Council’s UK Young Ambassadors has concluded that young people are dissatisfied with the way education is structured and have offered viewpoints on how it can be improved to reflect the needs of young people. The new report, which launched on Monday 3rd December 2018, also concludes young people feel incredibly unsupported when it comes to applying for jobs.
60% of the young people surveyed identified the need to have individual capacity for development, languages, internet and media literacy, adaptability to different contexts, democratic participation, intercultural dialogue and basic finance skills as very important to have in school curriculums.
The youth-led consultation, which was led by UK Young Ambassadors for Structured Dialogue, was carried out to establish what the needs of young people are in all the different policy aspects of the European Union. UK Young Ambassadors chose the topics which would resonate most with young people living in the UK and the issues they face. The extensive process investigated the following issues:
- What skills young people want to have developed in school, but don’t get the chance to, for their future endeavours?
- What can be further done to support young people in regards to their mental health and wellbeing?
- How to promote and integrate young people in rural areas?
- How to promote better nationally the programmes and services the EU offers for the development of young people?
- What is the best way to achieve equality and inclusion of marginalised groups?
- How can we further progress youth democratic participation?
On Wednesday 14th November, the Youth Select Committee launched its report investigating the barriers faced by young people across the country in accessing quality work experience.
The report, titled ‘Realising the Potential of Work Experience’ is being launched in advance of a government response, and forms part of the UK Parliament Week festival. Work experience was chosen as the topic of the inquiry following thousands of votes in the 2017 Make Your Mark ballot, designed to give young people a voice.
Earlier this year a YouGov poll revealed over two-thirds of young people (71 per cent) are expecting it to be tougher to find a job in 2030 with 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds citing a lack of work experience as a barrier. The report launch comes at a time when House of Commons figures reveal almost half a million young people are unemployed.
The Committee’s key findings and recommendations include:
- Access to work experience remains patchy and inconsistent despite recent reforms.
- Who you are, where you live and where you go to school is associated with the kind and quality of work experience that you are likely to access.
- The Department for Education’s current approach of using benchmarks and working with the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) to improve quality is promising, however, this has not yet resulted in high-quality support becoming available for all young people.
- The Department for Education must commission a full, independent review into the CEC’s impact on access to work experience for the most disadvantaged young people.
- Government needs to do more to integrate work experience—in all its forms—with its industrial strategy.
- Government should work with schools, business and young people to develop a quality benchmarking scheme for businesses offering work experience.
Claudia Quinn, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “Following our extensive inquiry, we have concluded the Government need to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people’s access to work experience.
“The Government must act now to ensure the most disadvantaged young people can access high-quality work experience.”
Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “From questioning business leaders to charity experts, the Youth Select Committee spent months investigating how high-quality work experience can help future-proof the UK’s economy. The result is a detailed report which again shows how essential the committee is in representing the views of our country’s future, now more than ever.
“I am delighted to see the launch of this report, and I am confident my Parliamentary colleagues will consider its conclusions. I am also certain it will provide an invaluable contribution to the wider discussions in this area.”
The Youth Select Committee is a joint initiative between UK Parliament and the British Youth Council, it gives young people from across the country the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics of importance to them. The eleven committee members are aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on work experience was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including leaders from the worlds of business, 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.
UK Youth Parliament has chosen to focus on lowering the voting age to 16 and knife crime in 2019. The decision came following the UK Youth Parliament’s tenth House of Commons debate which was chaired by the Speaker, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. Knife crime was declared a top concern in the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot of over 1.1 million young people.
Votes at 16 continues to be an important issue for young people and has been voted as a campaign priority for the third year in a row. Alex McDermott, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire who spoke on the issue of lowering the voting age said “Votes at 16 continues to be high on the agenda for young people.
“Young people have spoken out on this issue for long enough. It’s time for the Government to listen to young people and lower the voting age to 16”
Imogen White, Member of Youth Parliament for Member of Youth Parliament for Essex, who spoke on a knife which was chosen as the priority campaign for England, said: “Knife crime is the largest concern of young people across the UK. Young people shouldn’t have to fear for their lives or feel they have to turn to violent weapons just to feel safe in their communities.
“The knife crime epidemic is crippling our nation and the Government must do everything in their power to protect young people.”
Members of Parliament from across the House of Commons responded to the news.
Norman Lamb MP, Member of Parliament for North Norfolk said: “Soaring knife crime is destroying the safety and fabric of our communities, with teenagers and young people most at risk.
“The number of fatal stabbings rose by 16% in England and Wales between 2015 and 2017, while new NHS figures show that 13 people on average were admitted to hospital every day following a knife attack last year.
“The Government must do more to tackle this crisis, but extra policing alone is not the answer. We need a public health approach that tackles the root causes of violent crime, including investment in community services designed to prevent youth violence and support those who are at risk of offending. This is a major concern for young people across the country and I welcome that the UK Youth Parliament is treating it as a priority.”
Vicky Foxcroft MP, Member of Parliament for Lewisham, who attended the House of Commons Sitting said: “I was pleased to hear that the UK Youth Parliament were discussing knife crime in Parliament.
“In September I was fortunate enough to meet London members of the Youth Parliament in Westminster to discuss the work we’ve been doing on the Youth Violence Commission.
“Their knowledge and passion on how we tackle knife crime was so clear. They recognised the importance of early intervention and prevention and showed a real understanding of how the public health model works and what it can deliver.
“Their views on how knife crime affects them and their communities should rightly be heard by all politicians.”
Ross Thomson MP, Member of Parliament for Aberdeen South, said:
“It is striking that knife crime has emerged as the top issue identified by young people in this survey.
“In my constituency of Aberdeen South, a teenager was killed at school in an incident involving a knife three years ago.
“It is up to MPs from all parties to do what they can to reduce the risk of future incidents.
“That means educating young people about the dangers of knives and changing the law where appropriate. For example, I have been supportive of moves to tighten up legislation around the sale of weapons online.
“This is an issue where MPs from across the house should be working together to address this growing problem affecting our young people.”
Members of Youth Parliament are set to formally launch the campaigns during their day of action in January 2019. UK Youth Parliament will now begin to develop campaign actions for the campaigns ahead.
The British Youth Council are delighted to welcome new minister for Civil Society, Mims Davies MP, who will take on responsibility for youth policy at the Office for Civil Society following the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP.
The Government have ignored calls from the British Youth Council and Members of Parliament from across the House of Commons for a dedicated youth minister. The British Youth Council will be writing to the Minister highlighting continued concerns with the size of the brief which will reportedly include other responsibilities. Since 2010, the Government have failed to appoint a Minister responsible solely for young people, despite repeated requests for a minister which can champion the voices of young people.
Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It’s a real shame that the Government have decided to ignore calls for a Youth Minister.
“In order for young people’s voices to be championed effectively across Government, it is important this brief is made smaller. We can’t see how this can be carried out when the Minister will continue to have so many responsibilities”
The British Youth Council will also use this as an opportunity to draw attention the latest ballot of young people which concluded knife crime was a top concern for young people living in the UK. The nation-wide ballot of 11-18 year olds saw more than 1.1 million young people take part making it the largest consultation of its kind in UK history.
The British Youth Council currently work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to deliver the Youth Voice programme. The programme aims to give young people the opportunity to influence public decision-making at a local and national level.
Commenting on the appointment of the new minister, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council is looking forward to working with the new minister to ensure the Government remains committed to young people’s voices being heard right across the Government.
“This is a crucial time for the country, it’s vital young people are part of the decision making that is taking place at all levels of the Government.”
On Friday 9th November, Members of the Youth Parliament will debate topics as diverse as knife crime, votes at 16, and homelessness, as part of their annual session in the House of Commons Chamber. Over 250 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK will participate in the Commons debate.
The sitting will become the ninth session of the UK Youth Parliament in the Commons Chamber and the topics for debate were selected through the annual Make Your Mark campaign. This was the UK’s largest ever ballot of young people, with over 1.1 million young people aged 11-18 voting. The campaign was coordinated by the British Youth Council with the support of local authorities, the UK Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The debates raise the curtain on this year’s UK Parliament Week (12-18 November), an annual festival of events intended to connect communities across the UK with their democracy.
Morning session 11:00am -12:50pm
- Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections
Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/
- Tackling Homelessness
Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
- Equal Pay, Equal Work.
Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
Afternoon session 1:40pm- 4:00pm
- Mental Health
Mental health services should be improved with young people’s help; and should be available in schools.
- Put an end to Knife crime
Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
At the close of debates, Members of Youth Parliament will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their 2019 national campaigns. Members of Youth Parliament will then mark the 1918 Representation of the People Act which granted the vote to some women and all men.
The debates will be streamed live, with a 20 minute delay, on parliamentlive.tv and UK Parliament’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Highlights from the debates will also be broadcast on BBC Parliament from 12noon on Saturday 10th November.
The session will be presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said: “I am very pleased to be welcoming Members of the Youth Parliament to the House of Commons for the 9th time. This annual event is now a well- established and important moment in the parliamentary calendar. At such turbulent times it is vital that the voices of our future are heard – and the fact that over a million people voted for the motions to be debated by the MYPs, shows that young people are engaging fully and enthusiastically with the democratic process.”
Marcus Dyke, Member of Youth Parliament for Kingston upon Thames, said “Members of Youth Parliament will takeover the Commons chamber to debate the top concerns of young people in the UK.
“These issues were chosen in a nationwide ballot of over 1.1 million young people. Their voices must be heard! It’s imperative that moving forward, young people’s views are not only given a platform but are listened to by decision makers across the country.”
Members of Youth Parliament will also be joined by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons, and Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House of the Commons, who will both speak from the despatch box in recognition of the UK Youth Parliament being the only external group allowed to hold debates in the House of Commons Chamber.
Andrea Leadsom MP commented: “At such a crucial time for our country, we need to hear the voices of young people, who will help steer our future.
“UK Youth Parliament is a fantastic opportunity for young people to raise the issues they care about most, right in the heart of our democracy. I know that MPs in Parliament and Ministers in Whitehall will listen carefully to what MYPs have to say.”
Valerie Vaz MP said: “I am delighted to welcome and to hear Members of the Youth Parliament to the House for the 9th time. Over a million young people voted to select the topics.
“From mental health to promoting democracy and tackling the scourge of knife crime, these are all extremely pertinent issues, and I look forward to an engaging debate which I am sure will be of the usual high standard.”
Commenting on the joint-letter, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council welcome Cross-Party support for a dedicated Minister for Young People.
“We feel its imperative the Government use this as an opportunity to make this portfolio smaller. Young people’s voices should be heard by decision-makers at every level of the Government and we can’t see how this can be prioritised in such a large brief.”
The British Youth Council has issued a statement calling for the Government to appoint a Youth Minister.
Cross-Party group of MPs write to Prime Minister asking for dedicated Minister for Young People
25 MPs have put their name to a letter sent to the Prime Minister asking for a dedicated Minister for Young people after the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP.
Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and Green MP’s all signed the letter which was sent to the Prime Minister this afternoon.
Currently, the Minister responsible for Young People takes on a number of other roles including gambling, sport, civil society and loneliness. MPs believe that this brief is too big for anyone minister to be across properly.
The lead signature on the letter is Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP who is the current Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs, said;
“Tracey was a fine Minister but even a superhuman couldn’t handle the workload expected of that multi-portfolio and with the current crisis we’re having with youth crime and violence we need a dedicated minister for Young People.
“We are not trying to score party political point here this is a group of cross-party MPs who simply want what has existed under previous Labour and Conservative Governments, that is a dedicated Minister for Young People.”