The British Youth Council is calling for the government to address some of the issues that have become more prevalent as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. Decision makers up and down the country must make provisions to ensure young people’s voices are heard so issues which have been highlighted by the current crisis can be resolved.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Young people remain passionate about seeing social and political change for their communities, and now is not the time to ignore their voices.
“As the government continues to make unprecedented decisions that affect the lives of young people, the government must make attempts to speak directly with young people and address the issues that affect them.”
The youth-led charity stands in support of all of the key workers across the UK, particularly those working for the NHS, striving to provide essential services and keep us safe. Early indications since the global spread of Coronavirus, suggest the inequalities faced across our health service remain an issue. The British Youth Council continues to believe health care settings should remain a safe, suitable and youth-friendly environment where possible. The current crisis has highlighted the ways in which chronic underfunding has led to inequalities in access to health care. Young people in insecure work and those who are socially and geographically isolated remain a concern for our members. We can not forget to address these issues of access and inequality in the wake of Coronavirus.
The crisis has further highlighted the need for increased mental health support for young people. The British Youth Council calls on the UK Government to create an open door policy within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. This approach would ensure that young people experiencing a mental health crisis can always access the support they need. We call for mental health support which is age-appropriate, youth-friendly and accessible both locally and nationally for 16-25 year olds.
Further to the vital work of our health service, in recent weeks there has been a huge uptake in applications for Universal Credit. In the last two weeks of March, almost a million people successfully applied for Universal Credit. Families will be facing extra financial burdens at this time with children out of school and changes in employment for parents and young people themselves. The British Youth Council believes that now is the time for the UK Government to increase support for child benefits and increase the rate received for younger children to the same rate received for the oldest child. Raising the child benefit level for the younger children in a large family is a simple and direct way of increasing vital support at a time of increased financial strain. This is particularly pertinent because larger families are more likely to be in poverty. Young people and families who have been placed under additional stress due to Coronavirus require this additional support.
We believe all of these issues could be more easily addressed if the government created a Minister for Young People. The creation of this ministerial position would ensure that someone within government was always seeking to bring youth voice into policymaking. We call on the government to immediately appoint a Minister for Young People who will be able to listen to the voices of young people and take real action to address their concerns.
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.”