Lancashire young people invited to take part in major UK consultation

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A BALLOT is underway to give young people from Lancashire their say on what issues are discussed at a special session of the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) to be held in the House of Commons.

The ballot, called Make Your Mark, runs until October 10. It will ask young people across the country what issues matter most to them.

Votes can be cast online and through ballot papers issued in schools and youth centres. The result will help to determine what is debated by the Youth Parliament at the session in the House of Commons on November 14.

Tutu Mwitumwa Mukelabai, one of Lancashire's elected Members of the Parliament from Hyndburn, said: "As young people we have the right to have an input on choices that the government makes that affect our lives. I feel it is my duty as a member of the UKYP to give all young people in my district the opportunity to vote for what matters to them. That is what Make Your Mark is all about!"

Local MYP's are working with schools, colleges, youth groups and voluntary groups in their districts to encourage young people to get involved.

Ten topics will be available to choose from on the initial Make Your Mark ballot paper. The five most popular topics among young people will be discussed by MYPs in their November debate, chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP and broadcast live on BBC Parliament.

Last year, the Make Your Mark ballot surveyed the opinions of over 478,000 young people, making it the largest youth consultation of its kind in the UK. This year, the young parliamentarians have set themselves a target of getting 1,000,000 young people to take part.

Fifteen-year-old UK Youth Parliament member, Connor Dwyer who will be running the Make Your Mark campaign in Preston, said: "Make Your Mark is the most important part of an MYP's role. By simply putting a cross in a box for the issue that they want campaigned for most, a young person is influencing local and government policy with a national campaign and a year-long investigation by the Youth Select Committee.

"If young people are loud enough, people will listen – and with 1 million ballots targeted, Make Your Mark will certainly make a difference."

Nikki Hennessy, Lancashire County Council's lead member for schools, added: "Since they were elected, Lancashire's members of the Youth Parliament have represented young people in their areas very effectively and have demonstrated hugely impressive debating skills. I have had numerous conversations with our MYPs on a wide range of issues and they have made their points very clearly.

"I have every confidence that they will be equally persuasive on the national stage in the House of Commons. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, for opening parliament up to young people in this way. When I visited parliament as a schoolgirl myself, I often wondered what it would be like taking part in a debate when the chamber was full of politicians. In November, Lancashire's MYPs will find out first-hand.

"Good luck to them and all of the other MYPs. If I get the chance, I will watch at least some of the proceedings on BBC Parliament myself."

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