Hampshire’s young politicians of the future have made their voices heard in the House of Commons, on issues such as transport, work experience and voting at the age of 16.
Of Hampshire’s seven Members and Deputy Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs), six attended the eighteenth annual sitting of the UK Youth Parliament at Westminster earlier this month, supported by Hampshire County Council.
Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Keith Mans, said: “It is very important that all young people have a voice on the issues that affect them, and the County Council is always keen to support young people to give their views – whether through the Youth Council, Youth Parliament, or other channels.
“I am delighted that our Members of the Youth Parliament have had this fascinating and empowering experience, speaking in the House of Commons on subjects that are close to the hearts of many young people nationwide. This was an incredibly valuable opportunity for them. However, beyond that, I hope it will signal to other young people across Hampshire that their views are valued, and inspire them to participate actively in democracy, locally and beyond.”
The UK Youth Parliament enables 11-18 year olds across the UK to use their elected voice to bring about social change. The elections are non-party-political, and candidates campaign based on issues about which they are passionate.
Hampshire MYPs are elected in bi-annual youth elections, held every other February and organised by Hampshire County Council. In 2017, around 23 young people in Hampshire stood for election with more than 3,000 young people voting.
Once elected, MYPs organise events and projects, run campaigns and influence decision makers on the issues which matter most to young people. All MYPs have the opportunity to meet once a year at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting.
The six Hampshire MYPs who attended Parliament were:
• Anastasia Lonergan, 15, from Havant
• Amber Hennessy, 15, from Fareham
• Callum King, 15, from Petersfield
• George Gilholm, 16, from Waterlooville
• Leo Buckley, 15 from Winchester
• Kathryn Brooks, 15, from Southampton
There were five issues debated during the session on 10 November, which was chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP. These issues, which were chosen following a national consultation among young people earlier in the year, were:
• A curriculum to prepare us for life
• Work experience hubs for 11-18 year olds
• Votes at 16
• Protect LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) people.
In 2018, the UK Youth Parliament has chosen to focus on lowering the voting age to 16 and a curriculum for life.
Hampshire MYP Kathryn Brooks spoke during the debate about Transport. Commenting afterwards, she said: “I think that Public Transport is so important, as it provides young people with opportunities to go to new places and to be socially active with their friends. Being able to talk at the House of Commons is an experience that I will never forget and I really appreciate being able to speak on behalf of not only the young voices of the South East, but Hampshire.”
Young people interested in finding out more about the Youth Parliament, and how to get involved, can contact Participation Officer, Moira Smyth at Hampshire County Council, on 01962 845313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org