The biggest youth consultation in the UK is now underway as young people aged 11-18 across Somerset get ready to vote on the issues that matter most to them.
Somerset’s Youth Parliament, which is supported by Somerset County Council is promoting the UK-wide Make Your Mark project which aims to highlight the big issues for young people and will culminate in national campaigns – whether it’s tackling climate change, giving youth a voice or ending knife crime.
Later in the year, the County’s elected Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) Charlotte Ward, Hanna Wittek and Amelia Saleh will be representing their peers and debating the issues identified by them in the House of Commons.
But in order to get there, thousands of children and young people in schools and youth clubs across Somerset will vote over the coming weeks to help decide which five issues will be debated and will go on to form the basis for campaigns.
Any young person who hasn’t yet heard about Make Your Mark and wants to find out more about this and the wider work of the Somerset UK Youth Parliament group can contact: Kdarlington@somerset.gov.uk
Last year UKYP secured over a million votes and Somerset had a record number of schools and youth groups sign up.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, MP John Bercow will facilitate the November debates as MYPs represent their own counties throughout the day.
At the end of the day all MYPs will take a final vote on which campaigns to take forward next year. Last year they voted for ‘Put an End to Knife Crime’ and ‘Votes @16’ to be taken on as the national Youth Parliament Campaigns for 2019.
MYP Hanna Wittek said: “When authorities listen to us we can help shape services, anticipate challenges and make a real difference – for us as young people, and for younger children and our communities.
“Make your Mark is so important in shining a light on our concerns and making sure they come to the attention of adults who genuinely want to help.”
Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services Councillor Frances Nicholson said: “It’s wonderful to see the passion and commitment of young people to make a difference in the world.
“The Council is proud to support the Make Your Mark initiative and I look forward to seeing what it achieves.”
The County Council supports the Somerset Youth Parliament by helping to coordinate and organise its activities. Recently, the authority also agreed to set aside £25,000 of its new Prevention Fund for the SYP to distribute on initiatives that focus on improving the lives of young people.
Young people from across Somerset – including MYPs, recently helped to launch Somerset’s Plan for Children, Young People and Families 2019-2022 which can be accessed here.
Find out more about the national Youth Voice activity and campaigns at the British Youth Council website https://www.byc.org.uk/