A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
“…young people are 20% of the population but 100% of the future.”
Tim Loughton (Minister for Children and Families)
Approximately 250 Members of UK Youth Parliament have a passion for standing up for their peers, so much so that they travelled all the way to Nottingham on 27 July 2012 to learn how to make a difference. The Annual Sitting saw attendees debate on how to stand up and fight for their rights as well as young people’s rights nationally.
On Friday, the young people who attended contributed to the National UK Youth Parliament Manifesto that will be presented to important decision makers later this year. In the evening they had the chance to take part in a number of workshops including physical theatre, placard art and ‘it gets better film making’.
The Network of Regional Youth Work Units was also there to support all of the young people that attended and to promote youth participation and good youth work practice.
On following day, members present took part in two of 11 skill building workshops. Ths included ‘how to run effective consultations’, ‘public speaking’ and ‘preparation for media interviews’. In the evening, activities started with a Question Time, followed by a short film and this was rounded off with with everyone dressing up in beautiful dresses and dapper suits for The Prom. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all; everyone danced until their feet hurt and they made lots of new friends.
There was a plethora of guest speakers, including Peter Tatchell, who has over 40 years’ experience of campaigning on human rights issues and directs the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s campaigns. Peter gave a motivational speech about campaigning. Members were welcomed by the Speaker of the House of Commons – RT Hon John Bercow MP – as well hearing Tim Loughton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, deliver a keynote speech.
Fun activities will took place all weekend and Nottingham saw the full determination, enthusiasm and drive these young people have in getting the voice of young people heard all over the country.
“I am trying to demonstrate our respect for you (Youth Parliament) our interest in you and our willingness to learn from you. We share the value of a belief in democracy, the political process and the imp0rtance of a fre exchange and constructive debate.”
Rt Hon John Bercow MP Speaker of the House.
The weekend was enjoyed by all and short articles written by young people can be found below….and yes every young person had as great a time as the young people writing below!
Olivia Bushell from Torbay:
The 2012 annual sitting proved to be inspirational within the first two hours as guest speaker John Bercow revealed his perspective that sex and relationship education and political education should be made compulsory in citizenship education. His stance filled me with confidence as I became aware that his views on the matter are closely aligned with that of Torbay Youth Parliament.
The motivational speeches continued with Peter Tatchell encouraging us that campaigns can be successful when put into action, as demonstrated by his various human rights campaigns. Finally, the other MYPs and myself then left the conference centre with the wise words of Tim Loughton ringing in our heads as he reminded us that; “young people make up 20% of the population but 100% of the future”.
Michaella Philpot from Essex:
On the first night of the sitting there was an optional workshop to be involved with the ‘It gets better campaign’ and be part of a film. It was really good to see so many MYP’s passionate about the campaign even if they were not part of the LGBT community.
On the Saturday morning we then got to listen to the ‘It gets better’ song. It was really nice to hear people standing up for themselves and helping deliver an inspirational message. After this we then watched a short film which had people talking about their own experiences and how badly it has affected them, also showed some photos of people who suffered so badly from LGBT bullying that they took their own lives. To see so many young people feel like they have no other way out was one of the most upsetting thing from the weekend. However was also one of the biggest eye openers to just how what can seem like just a few words to one person can mean a great deal more to another.
Vikram Patel from Birmingham:
The Annual Sitting is seen as one of the highlights of a MYP’s term in office. Apart from the prestige of annual sitting, it’s also an opportunity for all MYP’s to progress and develop their skills, which they can utilise productively in their own
local and national campaigns to make their mark.
The purpose of Annual Sitting is not only to train ourselves to be better MYPs skillswise, but it is also the experience of living on a University campus, something that some MYP’s had never experienced before. Sitting is also about socialising and making friends with like-minded passionate young people which occurred for myself throughout the whole event.
Charley Finch from Devon:
Nottingham is a long way from the rolling green hills of Devon, seeing the cultural diversity at this Annual Sitting is an exciting experience and this is a great thing to see compared with being in Devon where 96% of the population are White British. Devon not being very diverse isn’t a bad thing however it does have its implications with not many people knowing about diversity of religion and culture. This means that we may not be representing the other 4 % of the Devon population however this sitting is helping us realise that we need to make sure that we do represent everyone. It has also made us think about our local homophobia campaign which has come about from young people telling us how homophobic bullying isn’t being dealt with effectively in secondary schools.
Fift one per cent of the population in Devon is female however only 24% of the Devon County Council councillors are female so does this mean that women are not being fully represented? I think we need to make sure everyone is represented and we will keep that fresh in our minds when we are travelling back to our rolling hills. Remembering that young people are 20% of the population in the UK however we are 100% of the future and together we will make our mark and keep making change!