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.
UK Youth Parliament has launched ‘Make Your Mark’, the largest UK youth consultation of its kind. Following the campaign, the top issues will be brought to the attention of Government Ministers including the newly appointed Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran MBE, who has taken on responsibility for youth policy.
The annual ballot, which has taken place since 2011, will give young people aged 11-18 the chance to select one UK-wide issue, one devolved issue and give them the opportunity to identify an issue in their local communities. The ballot includes issues such as knife crime, the environment, mental health in schools and hate crime.
This year’s nationwide campaign is funded by Fledglink and supported by the British Youth Council and UK Parliament. The campaign, which is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of young people, will see Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth groups to take this opportunity to have their say, to influence the Government and decision makers in their communities. In 2018, more than 1.1 million young people from every corner of the country took part.
Khadeejah Hullemuth, a member of the Procedures Group, which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “Hundreds of thousands of young people across the country will get a chance to declare which issues are their biggest priority.
“Make Your Mark gives decision makers at every level of government the opportunity to understand young people’s priorities. Young people are passionate about the world they live in and their futures and politicians should not only listen to our concerns but act on them”
The top issues will be debated in the House of Commons chamber on Friday 8th November. The debate, which has taken place every year since 2009, will be chaired by Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who spoke at the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Conference in Leeds earlier this month. After the debates, Members of Youth Parliament will walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should become their priority campaigns for 2019. In previous years, mental health, tackling racism and religious discrimination and knife crime have been prioritised.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “Every year the Make Your Mark ballot provides a fantastic opportunity for millions of young people across the UK to engage with Parliament and the democratic process.
“Last year, over a million young people made their voices heard, as they voted for vital motions to be debated by Members of the UK Youth Parliament. This year looks like it will be no different. I look forward to welcoming the inspiring Youth Members again as they capture the imagination by debating the crucial issues affecting the future of our United Kingdom.”
Find out more information about the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
On the 50th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act receiving Royal Assent, The British Youth Council, UK Youth Parliament and Votes at 16 Coalition call on the Government to lower the voting age to 16 in all elections and referenda taking place in the UK.
The renewed calls comes following repeated attempts to extend the franchise by Members of Parliament. In a recent report published earlier this month, a cross-party group of parliamentarians made the compelling case for ‘votes at 16’.
The British Youth Council believe that 16 and 17 year olds should be given the vote in all public elections in the UK. The youth-led charity, which has been campaigning on votes at 16 since 2003, believe that at 16 we are mature enough to engage in, and contribute to, our democracy through having the vote.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It makes no sense that some 16 and 17 year olds are prevented from voting in elections and referenda. The Government must concede and implement a lowering voting age in all elections!”
Support for a lower voting age has increased over the last 20 years with politicians from across the political spectrum announcing their support for a lower voting age. 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections and are due to get a vote in the Welsh local elections, making it harder to deny an extension to the franchise in all elections. Votes at 16 has also been a long-standing campaign for Members of Youth Parliament with the issue topping the youth agenda on five occasions since 2011 in the Make Your Mark ballot.
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.”
UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark campaign received cross-party support from Members of Parliament this week. The ballot invites young people aged 11-18 to take part in shortlisting what is debated in the House of Commons chamber by Members of Youth Parliament. Young people can cast their vote in a multitude of ways including online.
The issues on the ballot, which includes ending period poverty and tackling homelessness, reflect the pledges made at local elections by Members of Youth Parliament across the UK. The nationwide campaign is supported by Local Authorities, schools and volunteers who are giving up their time to make sure young people have their say. Throughout the Autumn Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth clubs to take this opportunity to inform and influence Government and the decision makers in their communities.
Make Your Mark, which is supported by the British Youth Council, has reached hundreds of thousands of young people each year. Last year alone, almost a million young people took part in the annual ballot.
The Commons debate will take place on Friday 9th November, and will be chaired by The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who recently pledged his support for the campaign stating he looked forward to “welcoming the Members of the Youth Parliament and presiding over some truly inspiring debates”. Following the debates, Members of Youth Parliament will then choose their priorities for 2019.
You can find pictures of the Members of Parliament who pledged their support on Facebook.
The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education, has just announced that, in a move affecting all schools across the country from September 2020, the government will introduce mandatory relationships and health education in schools. This will add to current schooling guidance on online safety, mental and physical health, financial literacy, and relationships, in what represents “a major step in addressing concerns about consistency of quality and reduced curriculum time for PSHE”.
This follows work from a vast array of sources: the PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) Association, tens of thousands of young people across the UK, and from the British Youth Council’s own Youth Select Committee and UK Youth Parliament.
It’s not as if the signs haven’t been there. Young people have been campaigning to leave school with a “good level of understanding of mental health… (with) the ability to understand and develop their own mental wellbeing” (Youth Select Committee 2015 ), and almost 120,000 young people voted mental health services as their top priority in the 2017 Make Your Mark ballot. Young people want education that is fit for purpose, education that serves to better the understanding of key topics facing them today. Young people are living in a world where mental health and wellbeing is ever more crucial to understand, with 75% of young people with a mental health problem not receiving treatment, depression being the biggest cause of ill health among teenagers around the world , and the most common reason for Childline Counselling sessions in 2016/17 being mental and emotional health.
The painting is a grim one.
In my capacity as a trustee of the British Youth Council, and in my work in the youth sector over the last eight years, I have worked with thousands of young people. I will never forget the mum of a girl I worked with at a youth club, in one of my first positions engaging with young people, who I sat down with and explained that depression didn’t mean there was anything wrong with her daughter, and that it didn’t make her ‘different’. We eventually decided to roll the mental health talk out to the group, as it was clearly not something they had heard before.
To see her daughter, who was a gem, coming out of her shell and getting excited and confident on a club trip to the seaside later that year, unshackled by negative perceptions of her own mental health, and with friends who understood her was and is one of my most rewarding experiences working with young people to date.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s great that the government is rolling this out. It’s needed, though. It’s badly needed.
When YouGov find that more than half of young people “feel embarrassed about mental illness”, when last year’s Youth Select Committee conclude that “body dissatisfaction causes long-lasting consequences for young people”, it feels like the government have only made a small step in the right direction.
Updating guidance that was last updated in 2000 is a positive start.
Ensuring children grow up to “become happy and well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world” is crucial.
I warmly welcome the government listening to young people, but cannot stress enough the urgency of this problem, and a warning against piecemeal action. Creating PSHE that works for young people, makes them healthy, happy citizens, is of vital importance over the years to come.
We’re on the right path, but we’re not there yet.
The Government have published plans to introduce mandatory relationships and health education in schools, according to a statement released by the Department for Education. The British Youth Council welcome the new additional commitment to mandatory health education which will accompany existing commitments to introduce mandatory relationships and sex education.
The British Youth Council have been working to convince the Government to introduce statutory and compulsory high-quality citizenship and sex and relationship education to the curriculum for a number of years. In 2013, the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee report ‘A Curriculum for Life’ concluded life skills education in schools fell well short of its full potential and youth representatives have been working to convince the Government to make concrete commitments since.
The British Youth Council believes that students should leave our education systems equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience to become active, well-informed and confident members of their local, national and global communities. This means making sure that education covers politics and democratic life, as well as social issues such as sex and relationship education.
It’s evident that young people feel that the current citizenship education and SRE curriculum provisions are inadequate and that they are being denied a better understanding of themselves, relationships, society and politics. Young people have repeatedly called for a curriculum for life, most recently in UK Youth Parliament’s 2017 Make Your Mark ballot of 954,766 young people, when the issue was voted a top priority.
The current scope of the citizenship curriculum is too narrow and should encompass wider political and constitutional rights, as well as social issues including global citizenship and sustainability, legal rights and financial literacy, human rights, liberation, diversity and information regarding mental health.
The latest development is the first time the Government have made a commitment to ensure pupils are taught about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, what determines their physical health and how to build mental resilience and wellbeing. Mental health, wellbeing and body image have all remained important issues for young people, with last year’s Youth Select Committee concluding body dissatisfaction causing long-lasting consequences for young people and the 2016 Youth Select Committee concluding that more needed to be done to help young people learn more about mental wellbeing.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said:“The British Youth Council are delighted to learn that the Government will be introducing mandatory health education on top of it’s existing commitment to introduce mandatory relationships and sex education.
“Mental health and wellbeing continue to be a priority for young people in the UK, and it’s great to the Government taking steps to address the issue within the curriculum. However, the changes come following years of campaigning from young people who have made it clear school need to prepare young people for life post-education”
Over 100 Members of Parliament from across the UK pledged their personal support to promote awareness of the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot. The nationwide vote has been ‘open’ to anyone aged 11-18 years old since Friday 10th August 2017. Young people taking part shortlisting what is debated in the House of Commons chamber by Members of Youth Parliament on Friday 10th November 2017. The vote closes on Friday 6th October 2017 and you can find out more and cast your vote online here: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
Support included Minister for Sports and Civil Society, with responsibility for youth policy, Tracey Crouch MP and British Youth Council Honorary President, Wes Streeting MP. You can find pictures of the Members of Parliament who pledged their support on Facebook.
The ballot will contain 10 policies voted for by Members of Youth Parliament including mental health and lowering the voting age, which reflect their election pledges in local elections across the UK earlier in the year. The campaign will see Members of Youth Parliament 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.
The Commons debate will take place on 10th November, and will be chaired by The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who recently spoke at the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Sitting in York. Young members will then walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should be a become their priority campaigns for 2016/17. In recent years they prioritised “Mental Health” and “Tackling Racism and Religious Discrimination”.
Young people can take part in the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
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
- 978,216 young people vote to prioritise UK Youth Parliament debates with education, racism and religious discrimination, public transport, votes at 16, and the health service in the top five.
- Members of Youth Parliament to take over Parliament on 11th November 2016.
Young people have prioritised a curriculum for life as a top priority in a ballot of 978,216 young people, aged 11-18, from across the country, on what should be debated by the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons on 11th November 2016. The annual Make Your Mark ballot, was championed by Members of Youth Parliament, volunteers across the country, local authorities and schools and prioritised five topics to be debated in the House of Commons.
The winning topic is a ‘curriculum for life’ which calls on schools to cover subjects such as finance, sex and relationship education and politics, to better prepare young people for life after school. Young people have been passionate about creating a curriculum for life for a number of years. It’s evident that young people want citizenship education and PSHE’s place in the curriculum to be prioritised. Both are important for young people’s growth and development as they teach vital life skills and can be the first steps to engaging young people in political life.
This was followed in the poll by ‘tackling racism and religious discrimination’, ‘transport’, ‘lowering the voting age to 16’, and ‘stopping cuts that affect the NHS.
Last year racism and religious discrimination, (particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish), was one of the top issues and was subsequently voted to be the UK Youth Parliament national campaign for 2016 – ‘Don’t Hate, Educate!’
Local turnouts for Make Your Mark have been significant. Redbridge has climbed to the top in 2016 with a turnout of 75%, followed by Slough (67%) and Walsall with 66%. This year Connor Hill, Member of Youth Parliament for Dudley, returned the most ballots collecting 8,732, with Caitlin Cavanagh, Member of Youth Parliament for Liverpool returning 7,222, and Samantha-Rose Beacham, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire collecting 6,563.
UK Youth Parliament House of Commons Sitting
Once again the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting on Friday 11th November 2016 will be chaired by Rt. Hon. 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, as the only group other than MPs able to debate on the famous green benches. Up to 300 elected young representatives from all parts of the UK will take over the House of Commons, marking Armistice Day with a two-minute silence, before debating the five campaigns, and voting to choose their priorities for 2017. Finally, they will hear the Government’s initial response from the Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson MP. This year there will be an additional debate on “a better democracy” where “more unites than divides us”.
Connor Hill, Member of Youth Parliament for Dudley, who collected the most ballots said: “Make Your Mark simply proves that young people do want to engage with the political system and have their say on a nation scale. The amount of ballots collected is just something that never fails to amaze me and to have collected 978,216 ballots just makes me even more shocked! From this consultation, we can show that we are democratically campaigning for young people across the nation so that THEIR voices are heard effectively. The best part about such an astonishing figure is that it is all collected by the most inspiring volunteers who never cease to amaze me, and on behalf of everyone, we thank you for Making Your Mark. Thank you for empowering a generation.”
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Young people have been calling for a curriculum for life for a number of years, and it’s now important politicians sit up and listen to our concerns! Thousands of young people have made it clear what they are passionate about and politicians around the country must ensure their views are heard and acted upon. Once again, young people have demonstrated that if you give them an authentic platform to have their say, they will take part in high numbers!”
Rob Wilson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society, with responsibility for youth policy said: “Congratulations to the 978,216 young people who voted in this year’s Make Your Mark Ballot, and to all the volunteers who have worked so hard to get such a great turnout. It’s really important that young people engage in issues that are important to them and I’m really pleased that so many have chosen to do so through this year’s ballot.”
For media enquiries or to interview a Member(s) of Youth Parliament please contact:
Rhammel Afflick, Communications & Media Officer
firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0)20 7250 8376 | +44 (0)79 85 260 337
Notes to Editors
- UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11-18 year olds to use their elected voice to bring about social change through meaningful representation and campaigning.
- UK Youth Parliament is hosted and managed by the charity The British Youth Council. The British Youth Councilis the National Youth Council of the UK. A youth-led charity, we empower young people aged 25 and under to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives. We support young people to get involved in their communities and democracy locally, nationally and internationally, making a difference as volunteers, campaigners, decision-makers and leaders.
- The Make Your Mark campaign is proudly sponsored by NCS. National Citizen Service (NCS) is a once–in-a-lifetime opportunity open to 16 & 17 year olds across England and Northern Ireland. It is a unique two or three week full-time programme focused around fun and discovery, plus 30 hours committed to a community project that benefits both young people and society. On this government-backed programme, participants build skills for work and life, while taking on new challenges and adventures, making new friends, and contributing to their community.
- The Make Your Mark took place from Friday 12th August and Wednesday 5th October 2016. Young people were able to take part in online and via various printed ballots.
- Download a full breakdown of the Make Your Mark ballot, by region/ nation and local authority.
Please note: Whilst every effort is made to verify the accuracy of voting returns at the time of going to print, there are some late returns, spoilt ballots and unallocated votes that have not been recorded in this first edition of the report. So the final total is subject to change (increase) and an update circulated later in the year.
- The Make Your Mark results report is proudly sponsored 1st IT. 1st IT offer flexible IT support and consultancy across a number of areas including, IT infrastructure set-up and maintenance, Microsoft Office 365, Googles Apps for Business, Hosted desktop, helpdesk support, hardware and software(free in most cases for registered charities) procurement, security, backup and disaster recovery. 1st IT is a specialist supplier of IT Services to the Education and Charity sector.
- The following issues appeared on the ballot:
- Votes at 16
- A curriculum to prepare us for life.
- First Aid Education for all young people.
- Mental health.
- Stop cuts that affect the NHS
- Body image.
- Fund out youth services, don’t cut them.
- Raising awareness of sexual harassment in schools.
- Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish.