About the campaign
In 2020’s Make Your Mark ballot young people voted for free university as one of their top 3 priorities for the coming year. UK Youth Parliament will be campaigning alongside the National Union of Students (NUS) to create a campaign for free, lifelong and inclusive education and advocate for the Government to adopt it as we move forward into Covid-19 recovery.
We’ll be working with you to listen to young people, create a manifesto for inclusive education and campaign so that education is given the attention it deserves by decision makers locally and nationally in the coming year.
The NUS have developed resources to run “Transforming Education” events. You can run these in your school or town hall. At this event you’ll work with other young people to create a “Manifesto for Inclusive Education which we’ll then use to advocate for an inclusive vision of education moving forward. We’ll work with politicians from across parties to host a Parliamentary event campaigning for the vision we develop together.
University and Education Facts and Statistics
- In 2020, students graduating from English universities will have incurred an average of £40,280 of student loan debt, compared with £24,960 in Wales, £23,520 in Northern Ireland, and £13,890 in Scotland.
- The value of outstanding student loans at the end of March 2020 reached £140 billion
- In 2020 interest rates on student loans continued to rise. In September they went from 5.4% to 5.6%.
- NUS estimate that around 20% of students have been unable to access their learning at all during covid-19, and 33% do not believe it to have been good quality.
- In 2019, a 26 percent black attainment gap existed between the proportion of ‘top degrees’ (first or a 2:1 degree) achieved by white students and students of colour.
About the campaign
In 2020’s Make Your Mark ballot young people voted for mental health as one of their top 3 priorities for the coming year. UK Youth Parliament will be campaigning alongside YoungMinds to build a movement for change and ensure that children and young people’s mental health is at the heart of the government’s approach to pandemic recovery.
We’ll be working with you to listen to young people, create a manifesto for change and campaign so that young people’s mental health is given the attention it deserves by decision makers locally and nationally in the coming year.
We will be partnering with YoungMinds to support their campaign actions for local mental health hubs and to create a blueprint for children and young people’s mental health.
Mental health facts and statistics
- 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.
- 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
- In 2020, one in six (16.0%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017.
- Children and young people with a probable mental disorder were more likely to say that lockdown had made their life worse (54.1% of 11 to 16 year olds, and 59.0% of 17 to 22 year olds), than those unlikely to have a mental disorder (39.2% and 37.3% respectively)
Some statistics from YoungMinds about Covid-19 and young people’s mental health from their recent survey:
- 83% of respondents agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse. (32% said it had made their mental health “much worse”; 51% said it had made their mental health “a bit worse”)
- Among the respondents who were accessing mental health support in the lead-up to the crisis (including from the NHS, school and university counsellors, private providers, charities and helplines), 74% said that they were still getting some level of mental health support, despite the immense challenges services are facing. 26% of young people who had been accessing support said that they were not currently able to access support.
- When asked to share how different activities affected their mental health, respondents reported that face-to-face calls with friends (72%), watching TV/films (72%), exercise (60%) and learning new skills (59%) were helpful for their mental health during this time.
- 66% of respondents agreed that watching or reading the news was unhelpful for their mental health.
In 2020’s Make Your Mark ballot young people voted both plastic pollution and climate change in their top 5 priority issues. UK Youth Parliament will be campaigning to address climate change at the UK level with a particular focus on making sure that we stop non-essential single use plastics by 2025.
Plastic pollution and climate change more broadly are issues with global impact. We are proud that UK Youth Parliament has a nationwide network of young people working for change. That’s why we have partnered with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to make sure that you can take part in meaningful action to address this issue locally, nationally and globally.
This campaign will follow the Plastic Pollution Bill (this is a Presentation Bill – this means that we won’t be campaigning to have the whole thing made law, but will be working with politicians to try to have bits of it included in different laws. You can find out more about it here: https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/plasticpollution.html) Although we have campaign actions planned out over the course of 2021/22 the nature of the Parliamentary calendar at the moment means we will occasionally have to respond quickly in advocating for change. In March/April we will kick off our campaign by forming a Campaign Steering Group who will mobilise young people in their areas and advise on when we should get involved/which particular aspects of the Bill we should advocate for.
Plastic pollution facts and statistics.
Stopping plastic pollution won’t be possible without also reducing plastic production. Sadly, end of life solutions like litter picks and recycling are not enough: government must reduce the amount of plastics produced in the first place and make reuse the easiest option for everyone.
The good news is that new laws are being written in the Environment Bill right now: Friends of the Earth are calling on government to seize this historic opportunity and turn the tide on the plastics crisis by setting laws that turn off the tap of plastic pollution. A first step towards achieving this is to end the use of non-essential single use plastics by 2025. Here are some statistics that help us think about the current picture when it comes to plastic pollution and some of the ways this might be linked to the climate crisis. You can use these facts when you’re speaking with your peers or decision makers about the campaign.
- By 2050 plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish, weighing at least 937 million tons of plastic to 895 million tons of fish, if plastic pollution continues at current rates (https://www.businessinsider.com/plastic-in-ocean-outweighs-fish-evidence-report-2017-1)
- The average Briton’s annual plastic waste includes 242 plastic bottles, 109 single-use coffee cups and 209 crisp packets (https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/poll-reveals-typical-brits-annual-waste/)
- Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. (OSPAR, 2009)
- 12 million tonnes of plastic are poured into the ocean every year. (Eunomia, 2016)
- Plastics consistently make up 80% of all marine debris studied. (IUCN, 2020)
- There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. (Eriksen, 2014)
- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. (UK Government, 2018)
- Approx 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach in the UK. (Marine Conservation Society, 2016)
- Producing one tonne of plastic generates up to 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. (Material Economics, 2018)
- Plastic production has been forecast to grow by 60% by 2030 and to treble by 2050. (Center for International Environmental Law, 2019)
- Less than a third of all plastic in the UK is recycled. (PlasticsEurope, 2020)
- 63% of people want to reduce their consumption of plastic and 77% want the government to take more action to protect the ocean (Surfers against Sewage, May 2020).
UK Youth Parliament launched their national campaigns calling on the government to address the climate emergency, mental health concerns and access to higher education. The year-long campaigns are set to challenge decision makers to do more to ensure young people’s mental health is prioritised in the coming year, to create free, lifelong and inclusive higher education and lastly to stop non-essential single-use plastics by 2025.
A Spokesperson for the UK Youth Parliament said: “Young people have a clear ambitious vision for our future, and it’s important decision makers take action to address our concerns as we commence our recovering from this global pandemic.
“In our vision for a better society young people have been clear they want action on the climate emergency, they wish to see young people’s mental health given the attention it deserves and a government that invests in the young people of today by providing free university education.”
Members of Youth Parliament believe the climate emergency remains one of the biggest threats to our planet. Amongst many other issues, members across the country have agreed plastic pollution will have a serious impact on our current and future generations. The group of outspoken young people have stated national and local leaders in government must act to halt the impact of climate change with young people’s voices at the centre of decision making.
Mental health has remained a priority repeatedly for young people across all nations with the issue reoccurring as a top priority on six occasions within UK Youth Parliament’s annual ballot since 2011. Research from the British Medical Journal revealed deterioration in mental health is clearest among families already struggling, reinforcing concerns from young leaders that mental health must be kept at the heart of the government’s approach to pandemic recovery.
UK Youth Parliament have also joined forced with other campaigners to reiterate the importance of providing free higher education in England. The youth-led pressure group, believe that university is a gateway to success in life and should be freely available to all. The campaign intends to call for reforms to access to universities to prevent young people suffering financial hardship and not reaching their full potential.
Each of the campaigns have come about following UK Youth Parliament’s annual ballot of young people across the UK. The ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot, which was coordinated by the British Youth Council and supported by UK Parliament, concluded young people felt access to higher education should remain free as a priority.
UK Youth Parliament have launched their new ambitious vision for a better and more equal society. The independent group of advocates launched their new manifesto following a national conference which was held online for the first time in history.
The new manifesto highlights some of the biggest issues facing young people in the UK including some long-standing issues like reforming the curriculum to prepare students for life and other issues that have been prominent in the media such as combating discrimination and ending child poverty.
Alannah White, a member of the UK Youth Parliament’s Steering Group said “Members of Youth Parliament have worked together to produce a robust view of the kind of society young people wish to live in. Young people are very passionate about the change they wish to see and we’re very aware of the need to address some of the issues we face with urgency.
“We will work to lobby decision makers and others to achieve our ambitious vision for the country and the world.”
Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK came to together to debate new policies and campaigns at their Annual Conference. 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 manifesto has been published during the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark campaign which will give young people across the UK the opportunity to tell decision makers which issues they feel are the biggest facing young people. The results of the campaign will inform the UK Youth Parliament next campaigns. This year Members of Youth Parliament have been campaigning to address knife crime and to combat the climate emergency.
Young people across the UK can now take part in the annual Make Your Mark ballot, the largest UK youth consultation of its kind. The month-long campaign, which launches as part of UK Parliament Week, will give young people the opportunity to declare the most important issues facing the country.
Make Your Mark gives young people aged 11-18 the chance to select one issue affecting individual nations or the UK and one issue affecting their local communities. For the first time since the campaigns inception, voting will only take place online due to the ongoing outbreak of Coronavirus. The ballot includes issues such as climate change, tackling child poverty, mental health and hate crime.
Speaking on behalf of the UK Youth Parliament, Tessy Idemudia, said: “This is an opportunity for thousands of young people across the country to declare their priorities.
“Decision makers in every corner of the country will have an opportunity to not only listen to the concerns of young people but to act and make a difference. Young people are passionate about the issues that affect them, their families, and their communities. We want this year’s campaign to be a new catalyst for the changes we wish to see in the world.”
Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran said: “It’s more important than ever that we look out for our young people and in these challenging times, we want to make it easier for them to get their voices heard.
“The Make Your Mark ballot is a great way for young people to contribute their views on the big issues of the day, helping government to better reflect these in our decision making.”
This year’s nationwide campaign, which has taken place since 2011, is supported by the British Youth Council, UK Parliament and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The campaign is expected to reach thousands of young people with Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, inviting young people to take this opportunity to influence the government and decision makers in their communities. The results of the campaign will be brought to the attention of UK Government Ministers including Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran MBE, who is responsible for youth policy.
Recently, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport and the British Youth Council launched Involved. Involved is a social media tool on Instagram that allows young people to become a part of the decision-making process. I have been lucky enough to witness the Involved’s journey from an idea to a fully functional tool for young people across the country. Over this time, I have been able to become more confident in Involved’s necessity. For as long as our democratic system has existed, the prevailing view has always been that young people should be seen and not heard.
However, our society relies on young people to be responsible for their education, their careers, and their personal development, without the right to financial support or a direct way of providing feedback on the government decisions that impact them. The past ten years have seen a comprehensive transformation in this regard. There is the UK Youth Parliament where all devolved administrations have a Youth Voice representative body. The recent allocation of funding shows that structured youth investment succeeds in the long term. What we continue to see now is the dialogue surrounding young people increasing. And why shouldn’t it?
During my apprenticeship, I paid tax like any other employee. I believed that failing my GCSEs would prevent any hope of further education. And so, I was responsible for my entire future at the age of 16. And now we see young people taking responsibility for more than just their futures. Young people are moving. They are marching and using their few rights and platforms to spread a message.
From climate change to racial injustice, young people, who I am proud to say I share a generation with, care about much more than just their future. They care about the future of humanity. Yes, we have more to learn, and of course, we will make mistakes along the way. Look at the actions of previous generations and you will see; we are just another stepping-stone in the development of humanity.
Now for Involved, another stepping-stone allowing young people to have a direct link to the decision makers. If there is a disconnection between young people and decision makers, then the process of decision making is broken. For the same reason a marketing consultant is consulted on marketing, young people should be consulted on policies aimed at them. I am grateful we now have this belief established in some government departments. And those departments want to know more to do more, and that is why the young people we see marching, protesting and demanding the government to listen, can now be listened to.
It is just the beginning of Involved as a platform for young people to be heard, and there are certainly more steps to be taken for the Government to listen to young people. However, if we take this as the olive branch it is, we can keep moving. We can build a more open society that is not afraid to have the frank discussions it needs to progress. I will not forget the journey that was developing Involved, but I know that the best is yet to come.
The last three years I have spent as a member of the UK Youth Parliament has proved to me that the chamber is where young people’s voices belong. It has shown me that young people are a driving force behind change and will create a better, brighter future for our world.
UK Youth Parliament is formed up of a diverse group of young people with 53% female members, 34% identifying as BAME, and 23% identifying as having a disability. This is something all of our members are extremely proud of as this shows that, no matter who you are, that you do have a voice and will be listened to. Imogen Walsh, the steering group member for the North West, said: “The Youth Parliament consistently has a gender-balanced cohort and is a safe place for LGBT+ young people, respecting preferred pronouns and names.”
UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for many young people, especially the marginalised. Becoming a member has helped them develop confidence and feel welcomed in politics. Meera Saravanan, Member of Youth Parliament for Trafford, said: “The Youth Parliament has given so many young people a platform to stand up for what they believe in.”
We also hold the largest youth consultation in Europe every year. The Make Your Mark ballot highlights the key issues for young people across the UK, which is taken to the House of Commons and debated. Stuart Dunne, CEO of Youth Focus North West, commends the Members of Youth Parliament’s work saying: “The young people in the UK Youth Parliament do a wonderful job in enthusing and engaging their peers.” In 2018, the Make Your Mark ballot received over one million votes. This is our highest ever turnout and proves that young people are very politically engaged.
I highly commend Members of the Youth Parliament, past and present, on their campaigning. When I was only 14-years-old I was surrounded by inspirational people such as Haroon Irshad (former Member of Youth Parliament for Birmingham), whose courage to stand up for what he believes in never failed to inspire me; Jess Leigh (Former Member of Youth Parliament for Cheshire), who fought for young women to speak up about sexual harassment emboldened myself and many other young women to do so; and Emma Greenwood (Member of Youth Parliament for Bury), who persistently campaigns to protect our planet’s future. I could write all day about every member who has inspired me, but then we’d have a list three hundred people long.
Members of Youth Parliament consistently run fantastic campaigns to aid the young people that they represent. For example, Alex Davies (Member of Youth Parliament for Stockport) runs No Child Left Behind UK, which campaigns towards increasing support given to bereaved young people; Eva Carroll (Former Member of Youth Parliament for Liverpool) ran a very successful campaign around street harassment, and 43 of this year’s Members of Youth Parliament came together to create a video campaign to thank all key workers for their efforts at this time.
I have never felt more welcome than when I attend UK Youth Parliament events. When I was younger, I thought being involved in politics was impossible. Now, because of the UK Youth Parliament, I have been given a voice on a national platform to represent young people. For me, the UK Youth Parliament bridged the gap between me – a young, working-class woman to the House of Commons chamber. I hope that the UK Youth Parliament will do the same for many others like me in the future.
UK Youth Parliament shows how diverse our nation is and how driven young people are to inspire and instigate change, no matter what barriers they must overcome. To any young people reading this, I want you to know that YOU can make a change. In the words of Dr Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better”.
I will end with a final message from Jess Leigh: “The UK Youth Parliament is more than just a political organisation, it is a support network, a voice and a hope for the future.” I think she has perfectly captured the essence of the UK Youth Parliament, and I hope that many of you would be inclined to agree.
Dmitrijs Meiksans and Faith Oliver have been nominated for the National Diversity Awards 2020 for their work as Members of Youth Parliament and advocates within their communities. The National Diversity Awards celebrate the excellent achievements of grass-root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society.
Dmitrijs, aged 14, was nominated for the Positive Role Model award in the Age category, in recognition of his work within the youth sector, his dedication to supporting young people’s mental health and speaking out about bullying. Besides being a Member of Youth Parliament, Dmitrijs is also heavily involved within his local community. He is the Vice-Chair of the Hampshire Youth Network, Youth Ambassador for local Test-Valley based charity Unity and the Youth Advisor to the Board of Trustees for Andover Trees United.
Dmitrijs Meiksans, Member of Youth Parliament for Member of Youth Parliament for North West Hampshire, said: “Shocked is not the word to describe what I am feeling. I feel grateful and thankful to whoever nominated me for this honourable award.”
He continued to say: “I never thought doing something you were passionate about would win you anything. I simply started with a goal to make a difference to young people’s lives and inspire those who have struggled with their mental health and those who have experienced bullying”.
Faith, aged 16, was also nominated for the Positive Role Model award, within the LGBT category, highlighting the powerful and inspiring work Faith does for the community, including her campaign to criminalise conversion therapy.
Faith Oliver, Member of Youth Parliament for Stockport said: “I greatly appreciate my nomination for this year’s National Diversity Awards. I take great pride in being able to represent my community. Being recognised for my work on criminalising conversion therapy and reducing the stigma around speaking up about hate crime makes me extremely grateful.”
Both of these young people continue to make a momentous difference to both young people and their communities and we would encourage everyone to vote for them in their respective categories. Voting is now open until Friday 15th May.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council, the charity which organises UK Youth Parliament, said: “Congratulations to Faith and Dmitrijs! I’m delighted to learn they have been nominated for a National Diversity Award for the tremendous social action they have led on in their local communities.
“Young people are committed to bringing about social and political change in their community and I’m excited to hear to see the value of their voices being recognised by such a prestigious award”
To vote for Dmitrijs, please visit www.tinyurl.com/DMKVoteVote and to vote for Faith, please visit www.tinyurl.com/VoteForFO
About the Campaign
Our National Campaign for 2020 – ‘Protect the Future’
We will be campaigning to tackle the impact and continuation of climate change between February and October 2020. In 2019, young people across the UK voted to prioritise climate change as the UK campaign issue. Following the ballot, Members of Youth Parliament voted in the House of Commons for ‘Protect Our Future’ to be the leading national campaign for 2020.
- 11% of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise – that’s 800 million people.
- Climate change is currently only taught in schools as a small part of Geography and Chemistry. There is no requirement for it to be taught across subjects as a core part of the primary and secondary curriculum.
- 18 of the warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000 – the planet is getting hotter.
- Within the next 30 years, London will have the same weather as Barcelona currently has.
- Climate change is affecting floods in the UK – floods in northern England and southern Scotland are 55% bigger, on average, than they were five decades ago.
- Global sea levels are set to rise by more than 2 meters in the next 80 years.
- This means that major cities across the world including New York, Venice and Amsterdam could be submerged, displacing up to 187 million people
- 85% of people in the UK say they are worried about climate change.
- Currently, only 1% of vehicles on the road are electric. In order to meet our target to have 100% electric vehicles by 2050, we need to replace over .
- The latest UN analysis shows that if we act now, we can drastically cut carbon emissions within 12 years and reduce the increase in the global average temperature.
We would like to take action on the Climate Emergency through:
- Holding conversations and debates in schools and youth groups across the UK and inform decision makers of the outcomes
- Gaining further support from decision makers on a local and national level
- Creating a wider conversation to increase engagement and continue to inspire young people to take part in democracy
Sign our petition calling on the government to protect the environment.
The resources below will help you plan your knife crime sessions and help you navigate social media and other communications.