Funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and developed with young leaders in the Youth Advisory Group, the  British Youth Council’s Youth Voice Programme is home to a range of youth participation initiatives for young people across the UK.

The programme provides opportunities for young people to influence public decision-making at a national and local level, supporting a range of democratic representation structures and enabling young people to scrutinise some of the biggest issues they face.

The Youth Voice Advisory Group is run in partnership with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It brings together young people from the UK Youth Parliament, national youth representative organisations, regional representation and those with specific lived experience. It aims to engage with policymakers across UK Government and ensure youth voice is heard on key issues that impact young people's lives.

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. Members of Youth Parliament  (MYPs) are elected every two years, and there are currently hundreds of them across the UK. Every year, MYPs meet for their annual debate in the House of Commons Chamber.

The Youth Select Committee is supported by the House of Commons. The twelve committee members are aged 13-18 and include representatives from young people involved in various programmes and groups across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

In previous years, committees have led inquiries into knife crime, religious and racial discrimination, votes at 16, transport, mental health, body image, and work experience. Youth Select Committee members have told us that these inquiries helped their confidence, aspiration, knowledge and skills.

Working with the support of local delivery partners, Positive Stories aims to collect stories from each region of the UK to build a rounded picture of youth political participation.

These stories are presented to UK government as part of a report on the Youth Voice programme. Occasionally, these stories are featured on either the British Youth Council or UK Youth Parliaments website or social media.

Designed by young people, Involved aims to engage more young people in the decision making of government. The platform is for 13-25 year olds to define their futures via opinion polls and cross-government consultations on the latest trending topics. 

The Youth Voice programme offers a direct relationship with policymakers with a number of initiatives. The first is the House of Commons annual sitting, which enables Members of Youth Parliament to debate the top issues identified through the Make Your Mark national ballot.

Secondly, at The Big Vote (part of Annual Conference), Members of Youth Parliament debate topics of importance and vote on them to be added to the UK Youth Parliament Manifesto. Based on the top issues in this manifesto, Members of Youth Parliament are invited to hold a roundtable with the relevant government departments in order to bring policymakers up to speed on youth perspectives.

Following the roundtable, Members of Youth Parliament are offered feedback on how the government department has incorporated youth perspectives into their work.

As well as these formal mechanisms, there are also a number of wider moments where Members of Youth Parliament contact political decision makers, such as lobbying them on the national campaign, and meeting them to update them on key issues in their constituencies. 

Partners of the Youth Voice Programme