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 delighted to learn that 16 and 17 year olds living in Wales will be able to participate in local elections. The British Youth Council are renewing their efforts to convince the UK Government to lower the voting age in all elections.
The announcement comes following 19 years of campaigning for 16 and 17 year olds to be enfranchised in all elections and referenda in the UK. Members of Parliament, Peers and local authorities continue to come out in support for a lowering voting age; with 8 local authorities declaring their support for the campaign in the past 3 months.
16 and 17 year olds in Scotland had the chance to vote in the Scottish Referendum, voted in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections and we are now due to see the same in the Welsh local elections. Extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds in selected parts of the UK and not others creates inequality and could drive an additional wedge between the devolved nations.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s getting increasingly hard for the Government to continue to deny 16 and 17 year olds a chance to vote in all elections and referenda. It seems ludicrous to oppose a lower voting age when 16 and 17 year olds already vote in local elections in Scotland and are due to vote in Wales.
“1.5 million young people were denied a vote in the EU Referendum and last year’s snap election – it’s now imperative that we have parity across the UK”
The Government have repeatedly shot down efforts to enfranchise 16 and 17 year olds, making it clear it is not in favour of a lowering voting age. However, mounting support and evidence in favour of electoral changes mean it’s becoming increasingly hard to deny young people their right to vote.
UK Youth Parliament has commenced its year-long campaign for a lower voting age and a curriculum that prepares young people for life. The campaigns commence following the last summer’s Make Your Mark ballot and a subsequent vote by Members of Youth Parliament at the House of Commons Sitting in November.
Votes at 16 and a ‘Curriculum for Life’ are longstanding priorities for young people within the UK. In the last 5 years, young people have declared the issues a priority and campaigned on them repeatedly. Members of Youth Parliament have acknowledged that there is still much work to be done for both campaigns but recognised their actions are making a difference.
Ayesha Khan, aged 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Peterborough said “We’ve made the case for enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds time and time again and the case for it remains strong. 1.5 million young people are being denied a vote in elections. This year we’ll continue to our efforts to convince decision makers this must change!
“The case for a curriculum for life has also been made repeatedly. We want PSHE to address all the topics that will allow young people to actively participate in life! It’s imperative that time is set aside in our timetables – it can’t just be a filler or a random session, it should go alongside academic subject lessons to ensure enough importance is being placed on those skills that are truly indispensable.”
Members of Youth Parliament will be working throughout the year to widen support for each issue. They’ll host events in schools and colleges, take collective action at a regional level and lobby decision makers. Any young person who resonates with the issue can take part in campaign activities alongside Members of Youth Parliament.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will officially launch its report on body image and the impact it has on the wellbeing of children and young people. Body image was chosen as a topic for the inquiry as an issue which was prioritised by thousands of young people during the 2016 Make Your Mark ballot.
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. Their report, entitled ‘A Body Confident Future’ is being launched as part of Parliament Week, an annual festival which encourages citizens to learn about and engage with the work of the UK Parliament. The launch will be attended by Minister for Women, Anne Milton MP and former Chair of the APPG on Body Image, Jo Swinson MP, as well as the Committee’s expert witnesses.
The Committee’s key recommendations include:
- Government sponsorship of an annual ‘National Body Confidence Week’ which would be supported by all relevant departments.
- Introduction of minimum standards for social media companies in relation to content moderation, to be enforced in the forthcoming digital charter.
- Measures to improve the diversity of advertising campaigns.
- Adequate funding for schools so that pupils are supported in their wider wellbeing, including on issues related to body dissatisfaction.
- Greater focus on body image in online resources aimed at young people, teachers and parents.
Thomas Copeland, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “The Youth Select Committee has had the chance to speak to academics, social media giants, Government officials and of course young people themselves about the real impact body image is having on the wellbeing of children and young people.
“We’ve learned that body dissatisfaction is having a detrimental effect on young people today and it is quite clear that there are long-lasting consequences for health, education and wider life outcomes. The Committee is delighted to launch the report and is eagerly anticipating the Government’s response and plan of action.”
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on body image was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including high-profile bloggers, social media companies, academics, teachers and mental health professionals. 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 have chosen to focus on lowering the voting age to 16 and a curriculum for life in 2018. The decision came following the UK Youth Parliament’s ninth House of Commons debate which was chaired by the Speaker, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. The issues were two of five topics debated by Members of Youth Parliament on Friday 10th November 2017.
Votes at 16 continues to be an important issue for young people and has been voted as a campaign priority for the second year in a row. Ayesha Khan, aged 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Peterborough who spoke on the issue of lowering the voting age said “Votes at 16 is a pressing issue of paramount importance. I really don’t think we should confine the liberty of voting to 18 and above. Today’s event shows that young people are engaged. I sincerely hope that the decision makers recognise the talents and abilities of young people and take progressive action on the issue of votes at 16.”
David Abadir, aged 18, Member of Youth Parliament for Cardiff, who spoke on a curriculum for life which was chosen as the priority campaign for England, said: “I’m really excited to see that young people have prioritised a curriculum for life, because by addressing this issue we can go on to effectively address many of the other issues discussed today and we make Britain a better place for young people!”
Members of Youth Parliament are set to formally launch the campaigns during their day of action in January 2018. UK Youth Parliament will now begin to develop actions for the campaigns ahead.
The British Youth Council have announced the winners of the first ever Youth Voice Star Awards. The awards celebrate the breadth and diversity of local work happening across the UK to promote young people’s voices. The evening ceremony, which took place in London, was a chance to recognise the youth workers who make it happen, the change makers that champion young people, the organisations that give a platform to youth voice, and projects doing things differently to address local and national issues.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s so important we pause to celebrate the huge amounts amazing work happening across the country.
“Young people across the country are standing up for the issues that they’re passionate about voluntarily and it’s essential we recognise not only them but the youth workers behind them, the decision makers championing them and of course the organisations enabling to happen.”
The following people/ groups won awards:
Best Campaign Award:
LINX from Lancashire – Council Tax Exemption
LINX recognise the many issues which affect care leavers and found that this group of people are vulnerable and at risk of losing housing tenancies, becoming homeless or going hungry due to spending a significant amount of their small income on council tax. Late last year, LINX took on the challenge to convince local borough councils to make care leavers up to the age of 25 exempt from paying council tax.
Celebrating Diversity Award:
The Chatterboxes from Bournemouth
The Chatterboxes is a youth-led project run by disabled young people from Dorset aged 11-25 years old whose aim is to eliminate disability discrimination within their community and ensure that young disabled voices are heard. Several young people felt that by creating a youth-led magazine project their voice could finally be heard, positive change for disabled people could happen and they could be amongst peers who they could relate to, sharing issues and finding solutions together.
How will you hear me? By Leicester City Council from Leicester
Leicester City Council has set-up a participation training resource for professionals is an innovative training resource designed and developed by young people from Leicester City Young Peoples Council and Young Advisors.
Youth Voice Champion Award:
Jim McMahon MP, Member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton
Jim McMahon MP has not only championed youth voice but youth power. By giving the young people of Oldham Youth Council ownership over his first Private Members Bill. Jim chose to put young people over party or personal politics, and in doing so could grant 16 and 17 year olds the chance to use not just their voices, but their votes.
Youth Voice Worker of the Year:
Sarah Bellamy from Rotherham
Sarah Bellamy works hard behind the scenes and while it seems like all the work is done by young people, Sarah does all the organising. Sarah always ensures the youth cabinet have the right professionals in the room so they can effectively campaign on issues such as transport and mental health.
On Friday 10th November, Members of Youth Parliament will debate a range of topical issues, including the need for a ‘curriculum for life’ and public transport. In addition, they mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Over 200 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK will participate in the Commons debate.
UK Youth Parliament’s sitting will mark the eighth year that Members of Youth Parliament have debated on the green benches of the House of Commons. The sitting heralds the start of UK Parliament Week (13th-19th November), an annual festival of events intended to connect communities across the UK with their democracy.
This year’s Make Your Mark ballot, which decides the topics of UK Youth Parliament’s debate, reached 954,766 young people. Make Your Mark continues to be the biggest youth consultation of its kind in UK history, with almost three million young people aged 11-18 taking part in the last three years.
The debates will be streamed live on parliamentlive.tv and live on UK Parliament’s Facebook page. It is also scheduled to be broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday 11th November from 1:30pm-3:30pm and on Sunday 12 November from 10:00am-12:00pm.
Morning session 11.20am -12.50pm
- Protecting LGBT+ People
- Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections
- Work experience hubs for 11-18 year olds
Afternoon session 1.40pm- 2.40pm
- Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all
- A curriculum to prepare us for life
At the close of debates, Members of Youth Parliament will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their 2018 national campaigns. Members of Youth Parliament will then mark the 50th Anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK by sharing their reflections on life for LGBT+ young people 50 years on.
The session will be presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said: “I am delighted to be welcoming the UK Youth Parliament to the House of Commons for their annual sitting, which is now firmly established as an important moment in the parliamentary calendar. The fact that almost a million young people voted for the motions to be debated by the MYPs shows that young people are making their voices heard, and engaging enthusiastically with the democratic process.“
Lara Ferguson, Member of the Youth Parliament for Sheffield, said “We are all really excited to be taking over the House of Commons chamber once again. It is absolutely fantastic to be given the opportunity to debate the most important issues for young people on the famous green benches. It is important that young people are given a platform for their issues so we are delighted to have the support of Mr Speaker and MPs from across the House. My hope is that we will be able to inspire more young people from all walks of life to use their voice and have their say on issues that matter most to them.”
Members of Youth Parliament will also be joined by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House, and Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House, 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: “The UK Youth Parliament is an opportunity for Westminster to hear young people raising the issues they care about most. Both MPs in Parliament and ministers in Whitehall will be listening to what MYPs have to say.”
Valerie Vaz MP said: “Nearly a million young people voted to decide the topics that their Members of the Youth Parliament are debating, which range from public services to promoting democracy and fighting discrimination. These are very pertinent at this time, and I look forward to the debate which I am sure will be of the usual very high standard.”
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.