The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee formally begins a new inquiry into the UK’s knife crime epidemic. The pioneering Committee is calling for evidence from a wide range of contributors, including young people, charities, and businesses.
The announcement comes following a UK-wide ballot of young people 1.1 million aged 11 to 18 in which young people
But research from the House of Commons library has given even greater cause for concern on the spread of the epidemic, as it revealed that knife crime, particularly where it affects young people, has been a ‘persistent and growing concern’ for successive governments.
Putting a stop to the ever-growing scourge of knife crime is fast becoming a national priority, with the Government making several announcements in recent months, including the introduction of knife crime prevention orders and investment in early intervention projects.
Now in its eighth year, the Youth Select Committee is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 15-17 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
This year, the committee will look at issues including:
- Is the Government strategy doing enough to effectively combat knife crime?
- Are there trends in
the statisticsof who is perpetrating and who are the victims of knife crime?
- How is knife crime
Bailey-Lee Robb, a Member of the Youth Select Committee from Fife, Scotland said: “Young people have made it very clear that knife crime continues to be a significant concern.
“The Youth Select Committee want to hear from a whole range of people on this issue so we can find solutions that will have a demonstrable impact of the lives of young people.”
Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons said: “Every year the Youth Select Committee play a vital role in raising awareness about the issues affecting young people across the country.
“This year the Committee’s determination to tackle the epidemic of knife crime is something that I wholly support. I will be following this pioneering Committee as they investigate the scourge of knife crime and I eagerly anticipate their report.”
The Youth Select Committee call for evidence closes on Friday 7th June 2019 and the Committee will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons in July.
With our broad and diverse membership, our organisation represents voices of young people in all areas of the country. Often, youth councils, scout and guides groups, and our other members are the only access to opportunities for young people in rural areas, and therefore many of our policies and aims focus on these regions. The concern over the accessibility of public transport has therefore been raised through our members’ campaigns year after year, and especially in more rural parts of the country like mine, the South West.
Without access to regular, affordable bus services, young people can be isolated from friends, education, and work opportunities, and this is further impacted by the rising costs of car insurance and associated costs. With the report showing that 89% of rural journeys are made by car, it is clear that young people who are both below the age of driving, and who cannot afford to drive when they reach that point, are therefore severely disadvantaged by a lack of sustainable transport options.
We are pleased that our research into this issue from our earlier reports has been mentioned in this year’s Rural England Report. The findings of the report were drawn from, our 2012 Youth Select Committee report, researched costs, accessibility, and the impact rural transport provisions have, and so this reference is a credit to the young people campaigning on transport services. It is clear that transport has a huge effect on life chances through education, a correlation that can be drawn between costs and numbers of routes in rural counties and countless social mobility reports. Further to this, the Rural England Report also highlights how library service budgets are 25% lower in rural areas than urban ones, which can severely impact educational achievements, and many rural areas also don’t have access to university libraries – like my county, Somerset.
The findings of the report support the work out members in rural communities have been doing, and the issues they have been raising, so we hope this report shows the Government the work that needs to be done to ensure young people in rural regions are disadvantaged on the basis of where we live.
We are pleased that our voices have been recognised in this report, and The British Youth Council will proudly continue to raise voices of young people who can feel isolated and a world away from decision makers; a bridge we work to build. Rural concerns will always be central to the work of the British Youth Council, as we further our journey to empowering the voices of young people all across our country.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has received an official response from the UK Government on work experience. The response follows an extensive investigation into the barriers faced by young people across the country in accessing quality work experience. The Government have acknowledged its role in ‘preparing students for adult life’ and the importance of work experience but make no concrete commitments to address the concerns highlighted by the committee.
The British Youth Council were disappointed to learn that the response from the Department for Education contained ambiguous answers to many of the recommendations made by the Youth Select Committee. In November 2018, the committee ruled that the Government needed to take action on ‘unequal’ work experience opportunities.
Within the response, which answers each of the recommendations made by the committee, the Government state ‘every pupil should have first-hand experiences of the workplace’. However, the Government refused to make a firm commitment to commission further research on the quality work experience, stating they would only ‘look carefully’ at how they can improve their evidence base.
The Government also recognise more can be done to build on the work so far to encourage businesses of all sizes and across all sectors to offer young people experiences of the workplace. Despite this, the Government give the committee no assurances on how this will be improved.
The committee did welcome the Government’s plan to undertake further work to understand whether there is value in dedicating a section of the National Careers Service website to work experience. We were also pleased to hear the Government intend to involve young people in the design and testing of any new resources and services.
Claudia Quinn, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, from Liverpool said: “The Youth Select Committee were disappointed to learn that the Government accept their role in preparing students for adult life and the importance of work experience but make no concrete commitments to address the concerns highlighted by the committee’s extensive inquiry.
“The Government need to take steps to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people’s access to work experience and this response doesn’t take into account the very real concerns we’ve brought to their attention.
“We were, however, pleased with the Government’s commitment to involve young people in the design and testing of any National Careers Services’ new resources and services. Young people should be consulted on things that impact them and we’re excited to hear the Government have acknowledged this.”
The Youth Select Committee, who were aged 13-18, included Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. This year’s committee will examine different aspects of the widely reported knife crime epidemic.
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”
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has received an official response from the Government about their report on body image and the impact it has on the well-being of children and young people. The Government have stated body dissatisfaction is an issue of enormous concern to young people and their parents.
The comprehensive response from the Government Equalities Office comes following the committee’s inquiry, which concluded body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. In the response, the Government acknowledges the gaps which remain in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction, including the specific challenges faced by young men, LGBT+ community, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities or serious illnesses.
The response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations, makes a commitment to further understand body image in specific groups as part of their broader endeavour to better understand the causes and impact of body dissatisfaction.
In November, the committee made it clear the Government needed to ensure young people, parents, and teachers knew where to go for support on body image. The Government has since pledged to undertake an audit of available resources.
Thomas Copeland, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee welcomes the Government’s response to the committee’s report ‘A Body Confident Future’.
“We are pleased to see the Government have not only recognised the importance of body image but have also acknowledged gaps in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction.
“The Government have made a number of commitments in their response, including a commitment to further understand how body dissatisfaction affects different groups. We look forward to seeing how the Government goes on to ensure their commitments are implemented as soon as possible. Young people’s mental health and well-being must be taken seriously if we are to mitigate the detrimental effects of body dissatisfaction.”
The conclusions of the report has since influenced the launch of a separate inquiry by the Science and Technology Select Committee into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. In response to the recommendations of the committee, NHS England has also been working with the NHS Youth Forum to raise awareness of body image through a new poster campaign.
Kath Evans, Experience of Care Lead for NHS England said “NHS England is delighted to have worked with the NHS Youth Forum to ensure a poster is developed to raise awareness about body image that can be displayed in a range of different settings as recommended by the Youth Select Committee inquiry.
“Young people themselves know what matters most to them and their peers, vitally they know how to capture the attention of other young people, they have led the way, demonstrating ongoing collaboration to keep improving experiences of care.”
The Youth Select Committee, who were aged 13-18, included Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. This year’s committee will investigate the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience.
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has launched a new report, ‘Life in Likes’, on the impact of social media on the lives of children before they become teenagers. Today’s report reveals many children are approaching a ‘cliff edge’ as they transition from primary to secondary school, with social media becoming much more important in their lives but causing them greater anxiety. The study suggests some children are becoming almost addicted to ‘likes’ as a form of social validation that makes them happy and that many are increasingly anxious about their online image and ‘keeping up appearances’.
The British Youth Council welcome the report and its recommendations which echo the Youth Select Committee report launched in November 2017 on young people and body image. ‘A Body Confident Future’ was published following an inquiry which gathered evidence from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, social media companies, and health and education professionals.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “We welcome the research undertaken by the Children’s Commissioner into the impact of social media on children. Our own research through the Youth Select Committee highlighted that body dissatisfaction is the norm amongst young people in the UK. Social media can have both positive and negative impacts on body image, and whilst social media companies have taken some steps to mitigate the negative effects there is still more that can be done.
“It is good to see that the recommendations outlined in ‘Life in Likes’ reinforce the recommendations from the Youth Select Committee, specifically in calling for increased digital and media literacy within formal education, more support for teachers to understand the impact of social media on well being, and for social media companies to take more responsibility for the content on their platforms. We hope that this reinforces the need for action to protect children and young people.”
The Youth Select Committee report recommendations have been submitted to the Government for response, which is expected within the next few weeks.
My time at the British Youth Council has been exciting, new and busy to say the least! I have been exposed to and given different opportunities that I will remember for a very long time. From being in contact with journalists to meeting and speaking with people from different industries who all come together to do something great; give young people like myself a voice.
If you are wondering about the title of this post, this is what I first thought when I was told that I would be involved in the planning process for the Youth Select Committee hearings this year. My role on the day involved helping to create tweets which highlighted the main points, arguments and ideas given by those who gave up their time to give evidence on an important issue that affects thousands of young people every day; body image, it’s contributing factors and how we can ensure that difference and diversity is celebrated, rather than used as a tool of abuse. During the first committee hearing, I was able to meet and hear people who I personally followed, speak about issues close to myself, for example, the blogger The Slumflower who used her platform to speak about the body issues affecting women of colour. During the second hearing, I was able to meet someone in policy (who went to the same university that I currently attend!) and find out about opportunities at my university which may help to provide a pathway into a similar industry. (I also got to hear John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons say ‘ORDERR’ live)
Each day at the Brtish Youth Council has been different. Whether it’s been a long term project over a period of months or a simple day meeting, my skills have been put to test in this fast-paced environment. Sometimes, I have needed a little extra help or explanation about specific tasks. But the great thing is, the British Youth Council staff are very understanding and have offered support and clarity when I am having difficulty with a task. A chance for creativity has also been heavily present in my role. Whether it be designing tweets which are able to draw people in and get them involved in projects (Make Your Mark, or giving evidence to the Youth Select Committee) or finding creative solutions to problems, I have had a chance to bring some of my own ideas into my work.
I am really grateful and happy that I have had this opportunity. I hope to use this experience when I’m further into the working world, and the British Youth Council is something I hope to continue to get involved with, well past my youth.
Following its call for written evidence in May, the Youth Select Committee is holding oral evidence sessions with a range of witnesses as part of its inquiry into racism and religious discrimination. The first oral evidence session will take place in the Grimond Room at Portcullis House on Friday 8th July 2016. The inquiry comes at a time when reports have been suggesting a sharp increase in racist incidents since the EU Referendum.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee, now in its fifth year, is exploring how to tackle racism and religious discrimination, particularly focussing on awareness and education; services; and prevention. The Committee’s particular areas of interest are available in its terms of reference, which are available online. The Committee’s eleven members are aged 13-18 and include two Members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYPs), two youth councillors, a Young Mayor, one elected representative from each of the devolved nations and three reserved seats. Previous inquiries have reported on Transport, Education, Votes at 16, and Mental Health.
Bronagh Hughes, 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee from Northern Ireland said: “In the UK today, racism and religious discrimination are ever more prevalent and divisive issues in society that need to be addressed. The fact that this topic was chosen by the UK Youth Parliament in their debate last November, highlights that young people today feel that more must be done to tackle it. It’s important that young people engage in politics and as a Committee we looking forward to hearing from a range of individuals and organisations on the work that they do to help tackle these issues.”
Racism and religious discrimination was voted as the priority campaign of the UK Youth Parliament, following their Make Your Mark ballot and their annual House of Commons debate in November 2015.
During the Youth Select Committee’s oral evidence session they will hear from interested parties who submitted evidence including bodies like the National Black Police Associate and National Police Chiefs’ Council, charities like Kick It Out and young people from various parts of the country. The Youth Select Committee mirrors the UK Parliament Select Committee structure and gives young people the opportunity to scrutinise and hold enquiries into topics of importance to them. The Youth Select Committee has received induction training and mentoring from Parliamentary Clerks and British Youth Council staff.
Friday 8 July – Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Panel 1 – Education: organisations
- Troy Townsend, Education and Development Manager, Kick It Out
- Kim Johnson, President,National Association of Head Teachers
- Jenny Barksfield, Deputy Chief Executive,PSHE Association
Panel 2 – Young People’s Panel
- Hania Sulaiman, member of youth cabinet, Trafford Youth Cabinet, andMark Bailey, Advocacy and Engagement Manager, Children’s Rights Services,Trafford Council
- Zena Al-Sadoun, Member of Youth Parliament for Plymouth, and Jenny Way, youth worker,Plymouth City Council
- Iqra Al-Sadoun, Campaign representative for Youthforia, and Elizabeth Harding, Chief Executive, Youth Focus North West
Panel 3 – Education: projects
- Alex Raikes, Director, Stand Against Racism and Inequality
- Marvin Rees,Mayor of Bristol
- Irene Hewitt, Secretary, Derry office, Ulster Project
- Amanda Naylor, Senior Manager of the Children and Young People’s Programme,You & Co
Panel 4 – Community: projects
- Jas Hothi, Sports Development Officer, London Youth
- James Kingett, Campaign Worker, Show Racism the Red Card
- Jill Wilson, Communities Together, and Director ofThe Equality Practice Ltd
- Piotr Teodorowski, Ethnic Minorities Health Link Worker, Grampian Regional Equality Council
The sessions will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. For meetings in Portcullis House, the entrance is located on Victoria Embankment. There is no system for the prior reservation of seats in Committee Rooms. It is advisable to allow 30 minutes to pass through security checks. Committee rooms and the timing of meetings are subject to change.
For media enquires or to interview a member of the committee please contact:
Rhammel Afflick, Communications & Media Officer
email@example.com | +44 (0)20 7250 8376 | +44 (0)79 85 260 337
For inquiry related queries please contact:
Notes to Editors
- 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.
- Committee Membership is as follows: Bronagh Hughes, 17, Northern Ireland Seat: Chair of the Youth Select Committee, Elif Emma True, 17, Youth Council Seat: Vice Chair of the Youth Select Committee, Rhys Barnes, 18, Member of Barnet Youth Board, Otis Skitch, 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Torbay, Opprah Manyika, 19, Other Representative Seat, Neil Kotre,17, Other Representative Seat, Namir Rahim Chowdhury, 18, Other Representative Seat, Martin Gallacher, 17, Scottish Seat: Member of Scottish Youth Parliament for Glasgow Cathcart, Jonathan Quin, Young Mayor of Surrey Heath, Brahmpreet Kaur Gulati, Member of Youth Parliament for Leicester and Emily Jones, 14, Welsh Seat: Caerphilly Youth Forum.
- Media spokespeople are available on request throughout the oral evidence sessions. To organise interviews please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- For inquiry-related questions please contact the inquiry team on email@example.com
- Photos of the Youth Select Committee are available here: https://parliament.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-parliament/images/assetbox/ae63417b-9518-424a-a756-d0a5ad95e7d0/assetbox.html. (Please credit all photos UK Parliament/ Jessica Taylor.)
- Further information about the Youth Select Committee is available at: http://byc.org.uk/youthselect