Media spokespeople are available on request at various points throughout the campaign. To organise interviews please get in touch with the British Youth Council press office.
Press releases to journalists.
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are supporting a renewed attempt to lower the voting age across the UK. On Friday 3 November, Parliament will debate a Private Members’ Bill which is set to enable all 16 and 17 year olds a chance to vote in all UK elections and referenda. The bill is sponsored by Jim McMahon MP, who has been a passionate supporter of enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds after listening to young people from Oldham Youth Council.
The announcement of the Private Member’s Bill has galvanised young people into action, seeing young people lobbying their MP to attend the debate. Many MPs have announced their support for the bill, including Diane Abbot MP, Caroline Lucas MP, and Sir Peter Bottomley MP.
Jim McMahon MP, Member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton, who sponsored the Private Members Bill said: “It was only right that I let young people decide the topic of my Private Members Bill. For too long their voices have been left behind, and so I tasked Oldham Youth Council with debating and then choosing this topic – and I’m glad they chose ‘votes at 16’.
“I welcome the debate on lowering the voting age. A debate about, once again, spreading the freedoms and responsibilities of our society to many more people”.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s extraordinary that we’re still having to make the case for lowering the voting age to 16. We cant continue to deny 1.5 million young people their chance to influence democracy.
“I’m really hoping MPs from across the House of Commons support this Bill because it’s about time we enfranchised 16 and 17 year olds in all elections and referenda”
The campaign for lowering the voting age began 18 years ago, in this time a number of MPs and Peers have used their influence and processes available to them to push the campaign forward. Despite the high turnout of 16 and 17 year olds in the Scottish Independence Referendum, 1.5 million young people were denied a vote in the EU Referendum, one of Britain’s largest constitutional decisions in recent history and in the General Election which took place earlier this year.
The British Youth Council and UK Youth Parliament have released details of Britain’s largest ballot of young people. The ballot called on young people to choose the issues to be debated in the House of Commons by young elected representatives. A curriculum to prepare us for life, transport, work experience, votes at 16 and protecting LGBT+ people all came out as top issues for young people across the UK.
This year’s campaign has seen 948,677 young people take part, in meaning the consultation remains one of the biggest youth consultations of its kind in UK history, with nearly 1 in 6 of all young people aged 11-18, taking part.
The Make Your Mark ballot is supported by Local Authorities, Parliament, The British Youth Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It gives young people across the country a say on what is to be debated by Members of Youth Parliament in their annual House of Commons debate, which will be held on 10th November.
The five issues that have been prioritised are:
- A Curriculum to prepare us for life – Schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum.
- Transport – Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all.
- Work Experience hubs for 11-18 year olds – Knowing where to find work experience can be challenging. Government should create an online space to help young people with this
- Votes at 16 – Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/referendums.
- Protect LGBT+ People – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender+ young people deserve to be treated the same as everyone else; discrimination needs to be challenged.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Young people have made it absolutely clear they want a curriculum that prepares them for life. This is the fifth time its come out as a priority for young people – it’s imperative the Government act now to address this reoccurring issue!
“Make Your Mark continues to reach out to so many young people across the UK and its important politicians and decision makers sit up and listen to what young people have to say”.
Each issue will become the topics of debate within the chamber on Friday 10th November during the UK Youth Parliament’s seventh 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. The debates will be concluded with a vote to decide on which issues should become their priority campaign in 2018.
UK Youth Parliament is launching, ‘Make Your Mark’, the UK’s largest survey of young people’s views. For the seventh time in history, young people aged 11-18 are being invited to take part in the ballot to shortlist what is debated in the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament later this year.
The annual ballot, which launches on International Youth Day, will contain 10 policies voted for by Members of Youth Parliament including reforming the curriculum, further support for young carers, improving mental health services and protecting school budgets.
The campaign will see Members and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth clubs to take this opportunity to have their say and to inform and influence Government and decision makers in their communities.
Joshua Gray, a member of the Procedures Group, which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “It’s so exciting that once again young people across the country are being given the chance to make it clear what they think is a priority to them in the biggest youth consultation in the country. When Members of Youth Parliament debate in the House of Commons, it’s vital that they address the issues that young people care about, with a mandate given to them directly from the Make Your Mark ballot.”
Young people are passionate about their own world and it’s imperative that decision makers sit up and listen to young people’s priorities, and this ballot gives all young people an essential outlet for their views.”
Following the campaign, priority issues will be brought to the attention of Government Ministers including Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, with responsibility for youth who is due to attend the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting and reply on behalf of the Government.
The Commons debate which is taking place on 10th November 2017 will be chaired by John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who recently spoke at the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Sitting in Liverpool. After the debates, Members of Youth Parliament will walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should be a become their priority campaigns for 2018. In recent years, mental health, racism and religious discrimination and a lower voting age have been prioritised.
Young people can take part in the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
Members of Parliament have voted to continue their support for the UK Youth Parliament’s use of the House of Commons chamber. The motion, which was tabled by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons, was passed with unanimous support from across the political spectrum. As a result of the vote, Members of Youth Parliament will sit in the Commons for the eighth time in history later this year.
Each year since 2009, UK Youth Parliament has been the only group other than Members of Parliament allowed to debate on the green benches of the Commons chamber. In order for the debates to take place, since 2010 Members of Parliament have voted to allow Members of Youth Parliament to hold this debate in the Chamber for the lifetime of that Parliament.
Chloe Lintern, a member of the Procedures Group, which supports the coordination of the UK Youth Parliament said: “Every year MYPs are elected up and down the country to be the voice of the young people in their area. After an incredible Make Your Mark campaign MYPs are mandated by over 900,000 young people to choose our next campaign and is one of many opportunities for Parliament to listen to the voices of young people.”
The House of Commons Sitting is an incredible opportunity represent, debate and plan for the next year ahead to carry on making some positive changes in our local communities and on a national scale”
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “I’m delighted that MPs have chosen to continue their support for UK Youth Parliament! It is absolutely paramount that young people are given the opportunity to highlight the issues that are important to them and I look forward to seeing the UK Youth Parliament debating on the green benches once again.”
Last year, over 250 Members of Youth Parliament debated education, racism and religious discrimination, public transport, votes at 16 and the health service, following a nationwide ballot of 978,216 young people.
The Youth Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into Body Image and the impact it has on the wellbeing of children and young people. This topical issue was chosen by the Youth Select Committee after almost one million young people voted it as one of the top ten issues in the UK Youth Parliament’s ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot in 2016.
Following its call for written evidence on the topic of Body Image, the Committee heard evidence from experts including bloggers, social media companies and academics on Friday 7 July. On Friday 14 July the Committee will hear further evidence from teachers, mental health professionals, young people and government officials, inside a Committee Room at the Houses of Parliament which is usually used by MPs.
Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee will produce a report based on its findings, which will be sent to the Government for comment. The eleven committee members are aged 13-18 and include Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Thomas Copeland, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “This year the Youth Select Committee will be examining Body Image. Body Image has become an issue of considerable concern for young people, so it is crucial that they are given a voice on this important subject. We are really looking forward to hearing what young people and professionals highlight as the key areas of potential policy improvement throughout the inquiry.”
Friday 14 July – Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Panel 1: Mental health and education professionals
– Liz Ritchie, Body Image therapist and psychotherapist
– Rosamund McNeil, Head of Education and Equality Policy, National Union of Teachers
– Natasha Devon MBE, Founder, Self-Esteem Team
Panel 2: Young people
– Cameron Wood, Project Leader, Young Person’s Network, Herefordshire
– Susie Williams, NHS Youth Forum
– Kirstie Stage, Member of the UK Youth Parliament for West Wiltshire
Panel 3: Government officials
– Emily Antcliffe, Deputy Director for Mental Health, Department of Health
– Tara Kaufmann, Head of Women’s Engagement and Gender Representation in the Government Equalities Office
The evidence sessions will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Entry is via Portcullis House and it is advisable to allow 30 minutes to pass through security checks.
The Committee’s first oral evidence session received coverage from BBC News, ITV New and Channel 5 News. You can see some of the coverage below:
Body appearance professor warns that images posted online are cultivated saying even our friends might take 10 photos before selecting it, then editing it with filters and this causes body confidence issues that is not real life.
Posted by Channel 5 News on Friday, July 7, 2017
The Youth Select Committee has grilled bloggers about body image following a noticeable increase in body confidence issues in the UK.This blogger speaks about the way in which skin colour is perceived.
Posted by ITV News on Friday, July 7, 2017
Last year the Youth Select Committee conducted an inquiry focusing on the topic of Racism and Racial Discrimination. The 2016 Committee took evidence over 4 oral evidence sessions and received written submissions from 67 contributors. Witnesses included teachers, young people, charities, academics, service providers and the Mayor of Bristol. Read last year’s Committee report, which contains a variety of recommendations for Government, and the Government’s response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations.
The Government have announced a new pledge to ensure every secondary school in the country will be offering Mental Health First Aid training by 2020. The British Youth Council welcome the Government’s announcement, which follows the Youth Select Committee’s recommendation for mandatory training for teachers on young people’s mental health.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee published its report in November 2015, following an inquiry which gathered evidence from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, Ministers and health and education professionals. The Committee offered recommendations across three key areas: funding and the state of services, a role for education and awareness, stigma and digital culture.
The Committee were very clear the training should focus on how to respond to a young person who asks about mental health, how to spot problems and where to refer young people when they become concerned.
Jake Pitt, Vice Chair – Campaigns and Communications, British Youth Council said: “This is great news for students across the country! It’s absolutely paramount school teachers are equipped with the correct training to support the mental health and wellbeing of their students.”
Although the Government have taken on a number of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations the British Youth Council will continue to ensure the Government prioritise young people’s health. The Youth Select Committee investigate a different issue each year and this year they’re examining body image and its effects on young people.
Research carried out by the British Youth Council’s UK Young Ambassadors has concluded that young people are ‘worried’ and ‘uncertain’ about the future because of Brexit. The new report, which launched on Monday 10th July 2017, also concludes that 50% of young people felt the world was changing for the worst, with only 35% feeling it was changing for the better.
Young people were also very concerned about the platform the EU referendum result created for hate, racism and discrimination. The campaigning tactics used in the lead up to the referendum were condemned by young people who felt the referenda targeted immigrants living and working in the UK and were keen to emphasise the positives of migration and freedom of movement.
The youth-led consultation was carried out by the UK Young Ambassadors a group of young people aged 18-25 tasked representing the UK globally. The findings of the report have been presented to the Government and the British Youth Council intends to ensure young people have a meaningful opportunity to influence Brexit negotiations.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It is quite clear that young people continue to feel worried and uncertain about the future of our country following the EU Referendum results. The Government must ensure young people are centre stage of the Brexit negotiations going forward – so young people feel they have a real stake in their future!”
The British Youth Council are excited to welcome the new minister responsible for youth policy, Tracey Crouch MP. Crouch is taking over the Office for Civil Society following the departure of Rob Wilson who has been in charge of the brief since 2014.
The British Youth Council have worked under various Government departments since 2011 to deliver it’s Youth Voice programme. The Youth Voice programme, which is currently supported by Department for Culture, Media and Sport, includes UK Youth Parliament and Youth Select Committee.
The British Youth Council will be writing to welcome the Minister to the new role, however, will be highlighting concerns for the size of the brief which will include other responsibilities. It is our longstanding belief, that the Government should appoint a Minister solely responsible for young people – a role which has not existed since 2010.
Ife Grillo, Vice Chair – Participation and Development, British Youth Council said: “We can’t wait to continue our work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport but we are particularly concerned about the size of Tracey Crouch’s brief and we’ll be seeking out reassurances at the earliest opportunity! We have repeatedly made it clear we believe a Minister for Youth should be appointed and we’ll be using this opportunity to highlight that issue again.”
We will also use this opportunity to remind the Government of the six issues we highlighted in the lead-up to the General Election which included the underfunding of youth services and the ensuring young people have a meaningful opportunity to influence Brexit negotiations which are due to start next week.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “We look forward to working with Tracey Crouch going forward, to ensure young people’s voices continued to be heard by the Government. With the reported increase in young people turning up to cast their votes, it’s absolutely imperative that young people are given a chance to influence Government policy going forward!”
The British Youth Council is partnering with ‘LifeSkills created with Barclays’ for the next 12 months to help young people build skills for work. Today’s job landscape is getting really competitive for young people and employers are increasingly looking for a rich variety of experiences and skills in new recruits in addition to qualifications.
LifeSkills and the British Youth Council have co-created new resources for educators and young people on how to get involved in social action and to recognise how the skills build through this activity can be linked to employability and help to enhance young peoples’ job prospects.
Taking part in social action is a fantastic way for young people to build transferable skills that will help them stand out to employers, with recent research showing that participants of social action are 27% more likely to find a job. Importantly, social action will also help those young people develop as individuals while giving back to their community and society.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “We know that now more than ever, young people need the correct skills to unlock opportunities for employment in such a competitive market”
The British Youth Council continue to be strong advocates for equipping young people with these skills to empower them to take charge of their future – so we’re excited to be working with LifeSkills on this programme.”
The motivation behind the LifeSkills programme is to inspire millions of young people and equip them with the key skills to move forward into the 21st century workplace. LifeSkills brings together educators, businesses, young people and parents to achieve this, as increasingly young people need to leave education not only with appropriate academic results but with the skills that we know businesses need now and in the future as technology reshapes our working world.
The British Youth Council are delighted to hear reports of a high youth turnout in the General Election. Politicians must drop their excuses and address young people’s concerns during this Parliament.
Decision makers across the country have repeatedly told young people that their voices will continue to be less of a priority until they turnout in elections. Now that young people have turned up, Members of Parliament must not only acknowledge young people but actively include them in the democratic process.
The British Youth Council wrote to political parties ahead of the General Election requesting their firm commitments to the six priorities set out in our General Election Manifesto. Young people want better mental health provision for young people, the introduction of a real living wage for everyone, the restoration of funding for youth services and an opportunity to influence Brexit negotiations.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Politicians have repeatedly told us our issues will become a priority when young people turnout. Young people have now sent a clear message! Members of Parliament must now address the core issues of young people!”
We’ve been warning politicians that they must use our vote or loose and this election may just serve as a share wake up call!”
The British Youth Council will be working hard to lobby Parliament and the Government – ensuring that young people’s issues remain a priority. Going forward the British Youth Council will be writing to the Prime Minister and the newly appointed Minister responsible for youth policy to ensure young people can influence policy at the highest levels of the Government.
Jake Pitt, Vice Chair – Campaigns and Communications, British Youth Council said: “It is now important that we continue to work closely with Government departments to address the key issues and ensure young people have a meaningful opportunity to influence our exit from the European Union. The election is just the beginning of the cycle, now we need to hold politicians to account!”