Gloucestershire’s Members of Youth Parliament (MYP) have been active over the summer holidays representing young people from across the county. The parliamentarians kicked off their summer break attending the 16th sitting of the United Kingdom's Youth Parliament. The sitting, held at the University of York, welcomed members from across England and the devolved nations.
The keynote speakers included Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Gulwali Passarlay, author of the highly successful book, The Lightless Sky, which reflects on his journey from war-torn Afghanistan as a refugee to the United Kingdom. Other organisations at the conference included Stonewall, Anthony Nolan UK and a number of other charities.
Gloucestershire’s Alysha Bodman was selected to ask John Bercow a question. She used the opportunity to draw attention to the lack of female representation in parliament, only 29% of MPs are women. The obstacles prevent women from standing for election include the ban on breastfeeding and online abuse of female MPs.
At the sitting the MYPs participated in the Big Vote 2016, helping decide the issues that will feature on the Make Your Mark ballot paper. Members debated motions including: first aid for all young people; encouraging schools to use reusable water bottles; and promoting positive body image.
Councillor Paul McLain, cabinet member for children and young people at Gloucestershire County Council, said: "The future is in the hands of our young people, so it is great to see this county’s MYPs representing Gloucestershire on a national stage.
“They are doing fantastic work and it is really important that the voices of young people are heard loud and clear.”
This year the Gloucestershire MYPs encouraged eight secondary schools to partake in the Big Vote, giving approximately 9,000 young people a voice. Make Your Mark ballots will arrive in schools by 14 September, and voting will close 30 September. This year it is hoped more than one million young people will vote nationwide following last year's incredible total of 969,000.
This year’s campaign, don’t hate educate, helped raise awareness of racial and religious discrimination. In 2013/2014 the police recorded 44,480 hate crimes in England and Wales, an increase of 5% from 2012/2013. To promote the campaign Gloucestershire’s MYPs met with Richard Graham MP, Neil Carmichael MP, Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP and Alex Chalk MP. All offered to assist the campaign.
The MYPs from Gloucestershire organised workshops and talks for young people around the county to highlight the discrimination faced by people within our society and in the county. They are hoping to continue this success with next year’s campaigns decided following the Big Vote.
Young people in Gloucestershire are represented by MYPs, Alysha Bodman and Nathan Sexton. They were selected in elections and are supported by the Youth Support Team, provided by Prospects on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.
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Alona de Havilland
07790 803882 or 01823 362804