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.
UK Youth Parliament have launched their campaign, ‘Action Against Knife Crime’, which calls for a significant reduction in knife crime across the UK. 1.1 million young people declared knife crime a top concern in the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot. The organisation will also reignite its long-standing campaign for a lower voting age of 16.
The anti-knife crime campaign aims to highlight the prevalence of knife crime, which claimed the lives of 37 children and young people in England & Wales last year. ‘Action Against Knife Crime’, which was prioritised at the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting, demands the Government combat violence through education in schools and community groups. UK Youth Parliament are working in partnership ‘No Knives, Better Lives’, a national programme in Scotland that aims to deter young people from carrying knives, to deliver the campaign.
Commenting on the partnership, Emily Beever, Senior Development Officer at YouthLink Scotland, the charity which coordinates ‘No Knives, Better Lives’ said: “We are really excited to be working in partnership with the British Youth Council on their Action Against Knife Crime campaign.
“No Knives, Better Lives has been working to prevent knife crime in Scotland for nearly 10 years and from our experience, we know young people are passionate about making change in their communities and stopping knife crime.“
“It will be amazing to see Members of Youth Parliament up and down the country engaging with this campaign and influencing decision makers.”
Members of Youth Parliament are also calling for the Government to review its current approach, after failed attempts to use increased stop and search to address the issue. In November 2018, the Centre for Crime and Justice published research concluding stop and search had no real impact on reducing knife crime.
UK Youth Parliament have backed Youth Violence Commission’s calls for the Government to adopt a public health approach. The World Health Organisation has also concluded a public heath approach is necessary to combat the multifactorial causes of violence. WHO reiterate the need for ‘collective action’ and acknowledge “violence of all sorts is strongly associated with social determinants”.
Busayo Oyedoyin, Member of Youth Parliament for Hackney, who has been campaigning on the issue said “Mental and physical health, education, youth services, social media and community outreach must be prioritised in order to tackle the issues underpinning knife crime.
“We believe knife crime must be categorised as a public health issue. This approach would allow different agencies and services to come together to tackle the issue properly. The Government must do everything in its power to address this issue promptly.”
The campaign has already captured the support of Members of UK Parliament from across the House of Commons. Members of Youth Parliament are due to meet with their local MPs over the coming weeks in an attempt to drive further change through UK Parliament.
UK Youth Parliament reignite demands for a new age for democracy
Members of Youth Parliament will continue their efforts to bring about a lower voting age of 16. Members of Youth Parliament voted to prioritise the campaign at their November sitting in the House of Commons.
The demand for votes at 16 has been a reoccurring issue since 2003. In the UK Youth Parliament’s ballot of young people, the issue has been one of the top issues of 5 occasions since the annual poll launched in 2011. Members of Youth Parliament will be working to gain support from Local Authorities across the UK as a clear indication of increased support across the nations.
Alex McDermott, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire said: “Over one million 16 and 17 year olds continue to be denied a vote in some elections and referenda.
“It seems unjustifiable that we haven’t seen parity across the UK since the introduction of votes at 16 in Scotland, looming plans for its introduction in Wales and growing support from across Parliament. I feel it may be time for the Government to concede that 16 and 17 year olds can no longer be denied the vote.”
Three Members of Youth Parliament have been recognised for their powerful contributions to debates that took place in the House of Commons chamber on Friday 9th November 2018. Each Member of Youth Parliament will be awarded the Paul Boskett Award for their outstanding speeches.
The award was set up in 2014 in memory of Paul Boskett MBE a valued, respected and loved champion of young people’s voices in the UK. Alex McDermott, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire won the award for his opening speech on votes at 16 from the dispatch box of the House of Commons. Cormac Savage, Member of Youth Parliament for South Down in Northern Ireland and Samuel Taylor, Member of Youth Parliament for Blaenau Gwent in Wales were awarded for their backbench contributions. Cormac Savage spoke passionately on tackling homelessness and Samuel Taylor spoke about lowering the voting age to 16.
Commenting on the awards, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, the charity which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “Every year the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons debates are exceptional and this year was no different.
“The passion on display in the chamber is yet more proof that young people are passionate about the future of their communities!”
On Friday 9th November 2018, Members of the UK Youth Parliament gathered from across the UK to debate in the House of Commons chamber. Ending knife crime, mental health, ‘equal pay, for equal work’, tackling homelessness and ‘votes at 16’ were all topics of debate. Each topic was chosen in a record-breaking ballot of more than 1.1 million young people. Members of Youth Parliament are due to formally launch their latest campaigns next week.
WATCH THEIR SPEECHES:
DEBATE LEAD SPEECH: Alex McDermott, Derbyshire
BACKBENCH SPEECH: Cormac Savage, South Down
BACKBENCH SPEECH: Sam Taylor, Blaenau Gwent
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.
UK Youth Parliament will soon launch their new manifesto following an intense debate at their Annual Conference in Nottingham. Over the weekend over 200 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK came to together to debate new policies and campaigns for the year ahead.
Members of Youth Parliament debated and voted on the issues during the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Conference which took place at the University of Nottingham. During the debates Members of Youth Parliament discussed putting an end to knife crime, tackling homelessness, welcoming refugees, supporting youth services, mental health in school, tackling hate crime and the importance of ensuring sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
During the three day conference, Members of Youth Parliament marked the Vote 100 campaign celebrating 100 years since some women were given the right to vote in elections. Representatives were addressed by Joy Warmington, CEO of brap, an expert in leadership development and coaching. Alison Kriel, CEO of the AMAYA Trust addressed in the closing ceremony sharing her personal experiences of having to persevere growing up and in the workplace.
John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, returned to the Annual Conference to address Members of Youth Parliament ahead of the UK Youth Parliament’s Sitting in the House of Commons which will take place in November following this year’s Make Your Mark campaign.
Brahmpreet Gulati, Procedures Groups representative for the East Midlands, the group which coordinate the event said: “This year UK Youth Parliament marked 100 years since some women were given the vote. An important milestone in the political calendar, and one we marked throughout this year’s conference. Equality has not yet fully been achieved but we as the next generation must continue on this journey.
During the conference Members of Youth Parliament debated how we could better support the LGBT+ community, sexism, hate crime and a whole host of issues facing young people in the UK. In our new manifesto, we’re calling on decision-makers to address the issues that young people are passionate about.”
Find out more about UK Youth Parliament
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.”
On Friday 28th July 2017, members of the UK Youth Parliament gathered together at Liverpool Hope University for its Annual Sitting 2017. The event was a major success with over 250 Members of Youth Parliaments (MYPs) attending the programme. The Annual Sitting is a weekend that every MYP looks forward to, and they were not let down!
The opening ceremony kicked off festivities with MYPs being informed about what their weekend was to entail, they had an emotional speech from representatives of the Holocaust Educational Trust and they were even treated to the now infamous Procedure Group dance! With positivity and passion, MYPs experienced their first regional and national meeting of the weekend, with their Procedure Group leading the session, ably supported by their Youth Democracy Co-ordinator. This was an effective session as Members of Youth Parliament developed a greater understanding of the Big Vote and their role in shaping the UK Youth Parliament manifesto. With the first Big Vote session less than 12 hours away, MYPs were set an overnight task that aimed to develop their public speaking skills; topics for MYPs to speak on ranged from Votes at 16 to their own policy motions for the next day to their own topic, just with the proviso that they delivered their speech with passion.
Refreshed for the next day, MYPs woke up to a speech from the Right Honourable John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who spoke eloquently on the issues of modernising parliament, the importance of having a youth voice and why he is personally so passionate about the Youth Parliament. It was an honour and a privilege for the Procedure Group team to host Mr Bercow’s visit to the Annual Sitting and I’m sure that all MYPs would agree that his words of wisdom will stay with us for a long time.
The afternoon Q&A Session was also a huge success. The panel spoke about a range of issues including Brexit and Votes at 16. The panel was chaired by former member of Parliament Julie Hilling. We thank all of the panellists for their time.
The Big Vote sessions were the major highlight of the weekend, with MYPs from across the country coming together in order to discuss issues facing young people. The quality of debate was incredible on both days with key points being made on each motion. MYPs passed 16 motions over the weekend, which means that they are now in the UK Youth Parliament manifesto. Members of Youth Parliament will now use the manifesto to prioritise their top ten issues; the top 10 most voted for issues will feature on this year’s Make Your Mark ballot, which is being launched nationwide on August 12th. The Big Vote is such a key part of the UK Youth Parliament calendar and MYPs should be proud of their debates this year!
Ultimately, Annual Sitting 2017 was a huge success. Members of Youth Parliament had a brilliant weekend and on behalf of the Procedures Group, we had a great time leading your workshops and your other sessions (especially delivering the Procedure Group dance!!). #UKYP17 was brilliant, let’s keep up the passion and deliver to our constituents!
This weekend over 250 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK met in Liverpool for the UK Youth Parliament’s 17th Annual Sitting to debate new policies and campaigns for the year ahead. The sitting forms yet another example of young people pushing forward their vision for a better country and a better world. There are no political parties or adversarial opposition, but everyone has an independent vote and the emphasis is on persuasion, consensus and researched arguments.
The three-day residential which took place at Liverpool Hope University was opened by Vimla Appadoo who told the sitting about her experiences volunteering with the Holocaust Educational Trust. John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who has spoken at every Annual Sitting since his first election, also addressed the sitting of Members of Youth Parliament. The Speaker gave an impassioned speech about the importance of young people having a voice. To close the sitting, Margaret Aspinall CBE, Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group told her story and gave an inspirational speech about the importance of the perseverance and fighting for injustices.
During the weekend issues such as support for young carers, improving healthcare services, supporting EU national’s post-Brexit and protecting the LGBT+ community all gained momentum following debates on new policy for the manifesto.
Connor Hill, Procedures Group representative for West Midlands, who helped to coordinate the event, said “The Annual Sitting is a key part of the calendar year for Members of Youth Parliament and it’s been fantastic to see the raw passion of the members during the debates. Following this weekend’s event, MYPs will be armed with plenty of knowledge and skills to carry on pursuing their roles back in their local authority to continue making sure that young people are represented on an effective scale both locally and nationally. It is programmes like this that enable young people to have an effective voice towards government regarding matters that concern young people.”
Luke Thornton, Trustee of the British Youth Council said “It was an absolute pleasure to visit the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Sitting. It really was great to see Members of Youth Parliament from different parts of the UK talking passionately about the issues they care about and the ways in which they want to address those issues. This is just one example of yet more young people giving up time to take part in social action”
Members of Youth Parliament were busy preparing for UK Youth Parliament annual Make Your Mark campaign which commences on Saturday 2nd July 2017. Make Your Mark gives young people aged 11 to 18 the chance to tell UK Youth Parliament which issues they believe should be a priority.
- 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
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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.