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Gloucestershire Member of Youth Parliament Speaks Out

24 August 2015

The Big DebateLast month, 31 July, members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYP) from across the British Isles descended upon the south west for the much awaited Annual Sitting, hosted at the University of Exeter. All 370 MYPs decided and debated on issues that make up their manifesto and will appear on the upcoming Make your Mark ballot.

Make Your Mark is the UK’s largest youth consultation, which gave a voice to 876,488 young people last year. The ballot allows 11-18 year olds across the country to vote for the issues that concern them most, and consequently determines the UK Youth Parliament’s priorities for the coming year. This year, an ambitious target of a voter turnout greater than 1 million has been set!

As proud hosts, the south west Youth Parliamentarians initiated the Opening Ceremony and paved the way for the Right Honourable John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons to mark the event with a truly inspirational speech. Mr Bercow pledged his continued support for the UK Youth Parliament in his 6th appearance at this annual event and emphasised that "quantity, persistence and overall repetition" is the key to achieving campaign goals.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the Big Vote took place. This was an opportunity for everyone's voice, and hence that of their constituents, to be heard. Numerous proposals were passed through the success of the democratic process, and some failed in the same manner. Democracy was truly at work. 26 new motions were passed including tackling racism, gender equality, improving political education and prioritising young people.

Alysha Bodman MYP for Cotswolds and Stroud is one of the three representatives for Gloucestershire selected last May in elections run by the Youth Support Team, provided by Prospects on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council, spoke during the debate about Youth Representation. Alysha highlighted the negative portrayal of young people in the media and proposed that the youth parliament needed to work to counteract stereotyping.

Alysha commented: “It was very interesting to hear the range of opinions and ideas presented in the debate and this clearly showed the diversity of the UK Youth Parliament. The annual sitting was a brilliant opportunity to meet inspirational young people from all over the country and it was really insightful to hear from such a range of people in the Big Debate and plan for success in the year ahead. We are all now very much looking forward to our sitting in the House of Commons on 13 November, where we will debate the topics voted on by young people with passion and a desire for change.”

The UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11-18 year olds to use their elected voice to bring about social change through meaningful representation and campaigning. The founder, Andrew Rowe was the Conservative MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent. The youth parliament sits annually giving members of the Youth Parliament from across the UK a chance to come together to take part in workshops, debate, create and change national manifesto policy, and network.

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Notes to Editor

About Prospects
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and training services in the UK and internationally. At the heart of what we do is the drive to improve the life chances, skills and aspirations of everyone we support. Each year we touch the lives of more than a million people through our extensive range of high quality services.

About the Gloucestershire Youth Support Team Prospects has delivered targeted youth support on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council since 2008 and in April 2013, the contract was expanded and extended for another three years. The Youth Support Team works with approximately 6,000 vulnerable young people in Gloucestershire. The service targets specific groups of young people who are the most at risk of not making a successful transition into adulthood. The Gloucestershire Youth Support Team also delivers statutory services and operates across Gloucestershire through youth support centres, mobile centres, in schools and with families and young people in their homes. The multi-disciplinary team comprises youth workers, family support, health and careers specialists working with police and probation officers. Acting as an integrated team, they identify young people most at risk and intervene early to prevent issues and problems escalating. The partnership is the first of its kind in England and more than 90% of young people supported by the team say it has made a difference to their lives.

Last year, the success of the unique partnership between Gloucestershire County Council and Prospects was recognised at a national level when they won the best Public/Private Partnership award at the national 2014 Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards.

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