Policy plays a big role in our work here at the British Youth Council. It is driven directly from the manifestos of the UK Youth Parliament and the British Youth Council. These important documents, like all the work we do, are formed and reviewed by young people depicting what local and international issues matter most to them. The motions put forth in these documents also include the British Youth Council’s annual priority topics, which young people actively go on to campaign on, with one of our biggest campaigns being the Votes at 16 campaign. With the help of many other organisations, coalitions with the same aims, and government groups we are involved with such as All Party Parliamentary Groups, campaigns like this in particular have gone on to make real change in other parts of the UK.
Our policy work as helped young people interact and engage with various political stakeholders in a wide range of programmes. Some of these include the Covid-19 Task Force Enquiry, the DCMS Youth Review, and the Youth Voice Group, who have worked to pair young people with government departments such as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Cabinet Office to consult on topics such as domestic abuse. They have helped us to create platforms and opportunities where young people can feel empowered to speak up on important matters that affect their lives, and make relevant changes.
Another programme led by young people is the Youth Select Committee. This has showcased the real importance of our policy work, having launched their report on knife crime in 2019, which the Government has acknowledged and responded to. Prior this report, young people facilitated various roundtables, consultations, and meetings forming crucial relationships with political leaders and community organisations also keen to dismantle the knife crime epidemic.
Finally, to shine light on the amazing international team and their tremendous engagement within international policy. The British Youth Council currently have two of our UK Young Ambassadors actively serving and representing on international boards; the Commonwealth Youth Council and The European Youth Parliament. Our international team help represent the young people in our community on international issues such as the environment and gender-based violence, having recently written a joint letter with the European Youth Forum to our Foreign Office calling for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. In all, young people have shown tremendous commitment to making positive change in the world of policy.
If you care about our policy work which enables us to empower young people and provide them with a platform to speak up and be heard, please show your support with a small donation, or sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with our activities!
Small Charities Week may only be one week, but if Covid-19 has shown us anything, it’s that small charities play a fundamental, and often undervalued, role in our society fifty-two weeks of the year. The aim of small charity week is to raise the profile, reach and awareness of organisations that perhaps don’t have the recognition of larger counterparts, but in my experience, often have a greater impact on the young people who need them most. With that, I wanted to focus this blog on a couple of small charities I know of, who could do with our support both now, and crucially, in the long term.
Kids of Colour are a pioneering small charity providing a platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives. In particular, their YouTube channel is a brilliant platform full of informative and moving stories from the kids themselves about their experiences.
The Damilola Taylor Trust is committed to providing inner-city youths with opportunities to play, learn and live their lives free of fear and violence, and with optimism for a future where opportunities flourish. Small charities like the Damilola Taylor Trust are more vital than ever. At a time when almost every single aspect of children’s lives have been turned upside down, we can’t continue to underinvest in their futures and risk an increase in crime affecting young people. I think we could all agree that everyone, regardless of age, could do with a bit of hope for young people right now.
And last, but definitely not least, the British Youth Council! I spoke last year about how many people are often surprised to find out that the British Youth Council is a small charity. I couldn’t be more proud and thankful for our wonderful staff team and trustees in making sure that young people’s voices are being meaningfully heard on the issues that matter to them, even throughout a global pandemic. A brilliant example; half way through writing this blog, the Bank of England shared a video of our Youth Forum members giving the feedback of over 900 young people’s Covid-19 related concerns directly to the Chief Economist. It would be so easy for institutions like the Bank of England to say that there is simply too much on for them at this time, and that a youth forum unfortunately is not a priority. Small charities like the British Youth Council making partnerships like this, will have a significant and positive impact on young people’s futures.
It is through ambitious, game-changing, and youth-led projects, like the ones mentioned above, that small charities like the British Youth Council are going to be so important over the next few months as we define our new normal. In the face of Covid-19, it’s been small charities who have excelled and shown what many of us already knew; it is often smaller charities who hold the fabric of our local communities and young people’s lives together. What we need is for society to champion our work and support us in any way possible.