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.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on the charity sector, with the cancellation of thousands of events and the loss of billions in income through fundraising events.
The Virgin Money London Marathon alone, which should have taken place on Sunday 26 April, is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event, which raised more than £66.4 million for thousands of charities in 2019.
The British Youth Council, like so many charities across the UK, has been significantly impacted by the effects of Covid-19 and the subsequent cancellation of fundraising events. The British Youth Council endeavours to empower young people across the whole of the UK to speak up and be heard. We help to lift up their voices and ensure they are able to influence decisions on issues that matter to them. We want to ensure that we can continue to do so during these uncertain times. However, as a small charity facing big challenges, we need your help with this.
The organisers of the biggest mass participation sports events across the country have come together to create a new campaign to raise vital funds to help our fundraising and save the UK’s charities, and we are getting involved!
The campaign, The 2.6 Challenge, will launch on Sunday 26 April 2020 – what should have been the date of the 40th London Marathon, the world’s biggest one day annual fundraising event, which raised £66.4 million for charities in 2019. The challenge will last for a week. The 2.6 Challenge is open to anyone of any age – the only requirement is that the activity must follow the Government guidelines on exercise and social distancing and remember to stay local.
From Sunday 26 April 2020, we are asking you to dream up an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 and fundraise by donating on our Virgin Money Giving page.
Nick Rusling, Co-Chair of the Mass Participation Sports Organisers group (MSO) and CEO of Human Race said “The 2.6 Challenge can be anything that works for you
“You can run or walk 2.6 miles, 2.6km or for 26 minutes. You could do the same in your home or garden, go up and down the stairs 26 times, juggle for 2.6 minutes, do a 26 minute exercise class or get 26 people on a video call and do a 26 minute workout – anything you like. We want people to get active, have fun and raise money to help Save the UK’s Charities by giving money or raising funds for the charity close to your heart.”
Hugh Brasher, Co-Chair of MSO and Event Director of London Marathon Events said “For many of the UK’s charities, the day of the London Marathon is the biggest fundraising day of the year
“One of the founding pillars of the London Marathon was ‘to show how the family of mankind can be united’. We hope that The 2.6 Challenge, which starts on the day our 40th Race should have taken place, will embody that spirit and inspire people, families and communities to fundraise for their chosen charity to help Save the UK’s Charities. Right now, our vulnerable members of society need the help of charities more than ever before.”
The mass-participation events organisers behind The 2.6 Challenge are: Human Race, parkrun, The Great Run Company, Run 4 Wales, Grounded Events, London Landmarks, Virgin Sport, Limelight Sports, Threshold Sports, Running High and London Marathon Events. The design and website has been created by Studio Republic and the social media campaign by LiveWire Sport. The campaign is supported by the Charities Aid Foundation, the Institute of Fundraising, the Small Charities Coalition, the Office for Civil Society, Sport England, Let’s Do This, Virgin Money Giving and JustGiving.
For more information on The 2.6 Challenge, visit twopointsixchallenge.co.uk
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”
The British Youth Council continue to closely monitor developments relating to the spread of the Coronavirus, taking particular interest in the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, the UK Government, and Public Health England.
The health and safety of young people, our staff and volunteers remain of the utmost importance to the British Youth Council and we will continue to ensure we have considered any risks to our activities. With this in mind, we are undertaking proactive decision making about all our upcoming events and activities and will be redesigning our work to be delivered digitally wherever possible to ensure some continuity for young people.
The country is currently facing unprecedented circumstances, however, it remains important that we continue to empower young people to create social and political change.
A spokesperson for the British Youth Council said: “We are committed to ensuring that young people across the UK to have a say, however, it is imperative that we take reasonable and proportionate steps to mitigate the to risk young people, our staff and volunteers.
“It is still imperative for young people to continue to have a say on the decision that affect their lives throughout the period where possible.
The British Youth Council will give any further updates regarding its events, residentials and activities on our below
The youth-led charity also acknowledges the hardship people will face during this period and calls on the government to ensure young people and families facing the most difficulty are supported to the fullest extent possible.
Other announcementsDuring this period we will keep this article updated within any new announcements:
The British Youth Council would recommend following the advice of Public Health England.
- #YouthWorkSupport is now live and accessible for our sector to access. The site has been developed to provide a SINGLE point of access for information for youth workers and those working with young people. Some resources have been rapidly developed by both teams at our organisations as well as by partners. A massive collaborative effort to support our sector to meet the challenges young people will face over the coming weeks and months due to COVID-19.
On Wednesday 12th February, the Youth Select Committee launched its report investigating the knife crime ‘epidemic’ in the UK. The Committee has ruled cuts to important and arguably life-saving services for vulnerable young people have caused a rise in knife crime.
The report, titled ‘Our Generation’s Epidemic: Knife Crime’ is being launched by members of the Committee at a special House of Commons reception in anticipation of a government response. Knife crime was investigated following a 2018 UK-wide ballot of 1.1 million young people aged 11 to 18, in which young people declared knife crime their biggest concern.
Knife crime offences are reportedly at their highest in a decade, according to official figures from the Ministry of Justice. Research from the House of Commons Library also showed that knife crime, particularly where it affects young people, has been a ‘persistent and growing concern’ for successive governments.
The Committee’s key findings and recommendations include:
- Inequality within communities and difference in opportunities provided across the country makes some young people particularly vulnerable to the draw of violence and gangs. The Government should develop a plan with clear targets and deadlines aimed at tackling the injustices which make a young person more vulnerable to knife crime.
- The Government should develop long-term funding plans of at least 5 years to develop effective ways of helping and reaching young people at risk of getting involved in knife crime.
- The Government should ensure that the views of young people and those with lived experience of knife crime is embedded into the Serious Violence Strategy.
- School exclusion should be the last step in a long line of disciplinary measures, and schools should be held accountable for their exclusions.
- The Government should roll back the extension of stop and search powers until the disproportionate targeting of Black men has been addressed.
- The Government should clarify its position on short term custodial sentences for young people who carry knives and to consider whether there is another approach that could more effectively deter young people from continued involvement in knife crime.
- The next version of the Serious Violence Strategy should include an increased focus on restorative justice and other informal criminal justice responses as a first step to a young persons involvement in knife crime.
Rachel Ojo, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee are concerned with the government’s increasingly punitive approach to tackling knife crime.
“If the government wishes to confront the fundamental causes of the rise in violent crime amongst young people, it must do more to address and improve the difficult circumstances many young people are facing.”
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee, which is supported by UK Parliament, gives young people the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics that matter to them. The Committee is made up of eleven committee members aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on knife crime was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including leaders from the worlds of criminal justice, politics and the charity sector. Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee heard evidence inside a Committee Room in Parliament, which is normally reserved for MPs, and their report will now be sent to the Government for an official response.
The British Youth Council are urging the UK Government to address the concerns of young people in any further Brexit negotiations. The youth-led charity has repeatedly highlighted the importance of including young people in decisions that will affect their future.
The importance of maintaining funding opportunities, such as the Erasmus+ programme, remains a priority for members of the British Youth Council. Despite reassurances from the Government, the British Youth Council also stressed the importance of young people and youth organisations having access to the same opportunities. The statement was made in response to the Commons vote which took place on Wednesday 8th January 2020, which saw Members of Parliament vote against compelling officials to negotiate continuing full membership of the programme.
A spokesperson for the British Youth Council said: “Young people’s voices need to be heard in the future Brexit negotiations, not just as a footnote, but as key stakeholders in the future of the country.
“Moving forward we’d like to see young people more involved in the decision making so we can ensure young people don’t loose out in post-Brexit Britain.”
The charity expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision to ignore calls for a second referendum on the final Brexit Deal. The British Youth Council recognise that in 2016 the majority of young people voted to remain in the European Union. Young people were very concerned about employability prospects, opportunities for young people, threats to our education system and concerns about rising racism and fascism within our society.
Young people aged 16 and 17 were also wrongly excluded from the EU Referendum, according to the national charity. The British Youth Council continues to acknowledge that these young people, all of whom are now eligible to vote, were denied the opportunity to participate despite growing support among politicians from across the political spectrum.
UK Youth Parliament have launched their national campaigns, ‘Protect Our Future’, which demands action to halt the climate emergency and ‘Youth Action on Knife Crime’ which calls on the UK Government to address knife crime as a public health issue. Young people declared climate change a top concern with knife crime also becoming a priority for the second time.
A Spokesperson for the UK Youth Parliament said: “The climate emergency and knife crime are the biggest issues facing young people and politicians must work to address their concerns with some urgency and with young people’s voices at the table.”
The climate change campaign recognises the situation will only be improved by the combination of individual action and government-level change. Members of Youth Parliament believe the government must act to halt the impact of climate change. UK Youth Parliament state young people’s voices should be at the heart of decision making as they will be most affected by climate change in the future.
Knife crime remains a priority for the UK Youth Parliament, following a year highlighting the prevalence of knife crime in the UK. This years campaign will continue to back the Youth Violence Commission’s calls for the Government to adopt a public health approach but will also call on the Government to roll back the use of ‘stop and search’ as a method of addressing knife carrying.
Each campaign was chosen following the UK Youth Parliament’s debate within the House of Commons chamber on Friday 8th November 2019.
UK Youth Parliament have chosen to focus on the climate emergency and knife crime in 2020. The new campaigns have been declared following the UK Youth Parliament’s debate within the House of Commons chamber on Friday 8th November 2019. Climate change was declared a top concern in the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot of over 800,000 young people.
The annual session was chaired by the newly elected Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP and Deputy Speaker, Dame Eleanor Laing MP over the course of one day. Passionate speeches and eloquent arguments were made on the most important issues affecting young people. During the debates, UK Youth Parliament debated ‘ending knife crime’, ‘mental health’, ‘curriculum for life’, ‘tackling hate crime’ and ‘protect the environment’.
UK Youth Parliament is made up of young people from across the UK, who are elected by 11-18-year olds in constituencies to represent them and use their voice to raise the issues which affect them. At the end of the day, Members of the Youth Parliament walked through the famous voting lobbies of the House of Commons to select climate change as the petition to be debated by MPs in the new Parliament.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle said “It is so important that young people are politically engaged in politics today, and that is why it was my pleasure to preside over the 11th sitting of the UK Youth Parliament.
Not only were the debaters very skilled, I am quite sure many of those taking part will be returning to our green benches in the years to come.”
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council, the charity which organises UK Youth Parliament, said: “Climate change and knife crime are two of the biggest issues facing young people, according to the UK Youth Parliament’s ballot.
“Members of Youth Parliament took these issues to the heart of our democracy, Parliament, and it is now for MPs and Government to ensure action is taken to address these issues.”
Members of Youth Parliament are set to formally launch the campaigns during their day of action in January 2020. UK Youth Parliament have started to develop campaign actions for the campaigns ahead.
Once again, this year the British Youth Council are taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge. Between 12pm Tuesday 3rd December and 12pm Tuesday 10th December, all donations to the British Youth Council will be doubled by match funding!
So, if you give £25, we’ll receive £50, give £50, we’ll receive £100 and so on…
We are looking to raise £2,000 which will then be matched to give a grand total of £4,000!
We want as many supporters as possible to get involved in the campaign to ensure that we empower young leaders to make real change. Whether you support with a donation or simply by sharing our campaign within your networks, everything you do will make a difference. It means that young people can be empowered through our Leadership Development Programme to make their voices heard and create real change.
Read more about how the British Youth Council empowers young leaders on our campaign page and donate to make twice the impact.
Assembly Members in Wales have granted 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in Welsh Assembly elections and Welsh local council elections. The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are celebrating the historical moment as a landmark in the campaign for Votes at 16 but call on the political parties in Westminster make this an equal right in all elections in the UK.
Lowering the voting age continues to be a priority for the British Youth Council and after over 23 years of campaigning for a lower voting age in all UK elections and referenda we’ll continue to call on politicians to restore equal parity of franchise for young people in others parts of the country. 1.4 million 16 and 17 year olds are being denied a vote in the upcoming snap election on Thursday 12th December 2019.
Speaking on behalf of the British Youth Council, Becca Moore, said: “Today we can celebrate a huge win for the thousands of 16 and 17 year olds in Wales who will now have a chance to vote in Welsh Assembly elections and Welsh local council elections for the first time in 2021.
“We’ll continue to call on politicians in every other part of the UK to ensure 16 and 17 year olds get a vote in all elections. It’s remarkable that we don’t have parity across the UK on this issue. Young people shouldn’t have unequal access to democracy and its imperative this is changed as soon as possible.”
The British Youth Council, which has been campaigning for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17 year olds since 1992, will call on the House of Commons to re-open the debate and introduce legislation to ensure equal voting rights following the General Election.