A guest post by Elisha Stephens, MYP for Salford
What is UK Youth Parliament and what does it do?
The UK Youth Parliament is run by young people, for young people. It provides 11-18 year olds opportunities to bring about social change by using their voices in creative and inspiring ways.
UK Youth Parliament comes under the big umbrella of British Youth Council groups. As well as UKYP, this includes a Young Mayor network, the Local Youth Council Network, NHS England Youth Forum and much more.
What does a Member of Youth Parliament do and why are they important?
MYPs are in place to represent the young people of their area on a local, regional and national scale by consulting with them and voicing their opinions on a wide range of issues, youth-centred and general issues alike. It is important that MYPs exist as we live in a world where adults make decisions on behalf of young people without consulting them. By having a platform such as Youth Parliament for young people to communicate with decision-makers, this allows young people’s voices to be heard and can mean that the youth of today have a say in how politics and social changes affect their future.
My name is Elisha Stephens, I’m 17 years old and I am Member of Youth Parliament for Salford. This means that I was elected by the young people of Salford to talk to them and represent their views concerning issues specific to Salford and across the whole of the UK. Being an MYP requires a lot of time but I do this because I am passionate about causing social change and making a stand for young people.
Members of Youth Parliament, in addition to faithful Deputy MYPs and other young people involved with UKYP, are presented with lots of opportunities to help affect social change for young people. However, one particularly important opportunity that is exclusive to MYPs, and is usually considered the highlight of an MYP’s term, is the annual big debate at the House of Commons in London. This takes place after Make Your Mark, the UK’s largest youth consultation, which runs from August to October. Make Your Mark is used to consult with the youth about what issues matter the most to them and what should be focused on by UKYP. The results of Make Your Mark determine which 5 out of the 10 original issues are to be debated at the House of Commons. Thanks to dedicated youth workers, MYPs, DMYPs and Youth Councils, Make Your Mark received over 865,000 responses.
The debate at House of Commons this year was held on Friday 14th November and consisted of debates on the topics of:
- Votes at 16- Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in elections and referendums.
- Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.65 per hour (£8.80 in London). Anyone who works, regardless of age, should have a decent standard of living.
- Mental health services should be improved with our help. We should all learn about common mental health issues at school and negative stereotypes should be challenged.
- Work Experience. We should have the chance to do at least a week’s placement, at a place of our choosing. We should have access to professionals who inspire us.
- Bring back exam resits in Maths and English in English schools, and help us achieve our potential.
After a day of spirited and passionate debates, the MYPs cast their votes and the two topics that came out on top have now become the UK Youth Parliament’s campaigns for the following year. These are Mental heath services should be improved with our help and Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage! (The current UKYP campaigns, which were voted in last year, are Votes at 16 and A Curriculum to Prepare Us for Life)
The entire process was, and is, one that requires a lot of passion and takes a lot of time and work but it is an exciting and rewarding journey to say the least!
For more information on UK Youth Parliament and the work that they do you can visit http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/.