A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
Eighty young people aged 11-18 elected as Youth Representatives from local Youth Councils, local Children in Care Councils, Young Carers’ Groups, and Members of the UK Youth Parliament from across the Yorkshire and Humber region came together as ‘Youth Voice Yorkshire and Humber’ at Sheffield Town Hall Saturday on 1June.
Youth Voice Y&H were proud to host the British Youth Council’s first convention of the year and everyone arrived prepared to tackle a packed agenda of issues and skills training.
Voting age debate
Local MP Paul Blomfield had the first slot to gain young people’s views on lowering the national voting age to 16 years of age. He engaged in a healthy debate with many young people who doubted the wisdom of reducing the voting age, fearing in the main that young people would not be sufficiently well informed to cast their votes.
Paul Blomfield remembers speaking to people aged 18, 28, 38, 58 and 88 who were not well informed. That however was not a reason for denying them the vote! After half an hour of questions a straw poll was taken on whether to lower the voting age. The young people voted 3 to 1 in favour of lowering the voting age to 16.
Young people from the YV Steering Group then delivered workshops on Team Management, Debating Skills, and The Media and PR. David Clark from BYC delivered an ‘Our Space’ presentation on opportunities to talk online with other young people in mainland Europe.
Curriculum 4 Life
After lunch Members of the UK Youth Parliament prepared for the National Annual Sitting which will take place this year at Leeds University in July, and the other youth representatives worked on the regional campaign to improve life skills training in Schools and within the community – creating a new ‘Curriculum 4 Life’.
Finally young people responded to the Department for Education’s request to feed back on how well young people’s views are gathered and taken into account when decisions are being made on matters that affect them. Article 12 of the United Nations Rights of the Child requires governments to measure how well the country is meeting this undertaking.
Bill Eve, Youth Voice Co-ordinator at the Youth Work Unit Yorkshire and Humber said: “This convention has been very much prepared by young people themselves. Experienced young people on the Regional Steering Group have planned the agenda, prepared individual training sessions which they delivered in person. This makes the whole skills training very credible and accessible to the youth representatives and will help them to make a really positive contribution to local services and policies in their home cities, towns and villages across the region.”
Youth Work Unit – Yorkshire and the Humber