Run by young people, the UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11-18 year-olds to use their voice in creative ways to bring about social change.
500 Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) and Deputy Members of Youth Parliament (DMYPs) are elected annually in every part of the UK.
Oakmeeds’ Year 10 student, Kelly Balmer, is currently a MYP for Horsham and Mid-Sussex.
Once elected MYPs meet with MPs and local councillors, organize events, run campaigns, make speeches, hold debates and ensure the views of young people are listened to by decision makers. As a MYP Kelly also had the opportunity to be part of a debate in the House of Commons on Friday 14th November 2014, this was broadcast on live television throughout the day.
The most important aspect of any MYP’s job is to make sure they represent the views of the young people in their constituency. They do this by holding Youth MP consultations, surveys and making sure their Local Authority is taking part in the Make Your Mark Campaign. Any MYP can set up a campaign, and any young person can support it and make a difference. The UK Youth Parliament’s primary campaign for this year is to improve Mental Health services for young people. The secondary campaign being to make sure that everyone regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation gets paid the Living Wage of £7.65 per hour (£8.80 in London).
On Saturday 13 December Kelly chaired the Education Panel and hosted the day at the Sussex Voice convention at Sussex University. Kelly is part of a team made up of 6 young people (2 from each area in the whole of Sussex) who has set up the Sussex Voice Organisation and Convention. The main focus for the Education Panel will be ‘A Curriculum to Prepare us for Life’. This will raise the question of schools providing young people with an education on topics they will need for the future, such as : Political education; Sex and Relationships education; Cultural awareness education; Community cohesion education; Finance skills education; Sustainable Living education and Citizenship education.
There were various other panels and workshops throughout the day which will pass on skills, information and ideas to the young people attending.
Each panel lasted for 50 minutes. Kelly introduced the discussion and other speakers, asked questions of the speakers and closed the proceedings. Mr.Nelson, Deputy Headteacher at Oakmeeds, dpoke on the education panel at the event.
In January, Kelly will be attending an event, by invite of Mr Speaker, The Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP and the Lord Speaker, The Rt. Hon. Baroness D’Souza as one of 60 Members of Youth Parliament to take part in a celebration to mark the 750th anniversary of Montfort’s Parliament of 1265 and represent the UK Youth Parliament.
This will be taking place in the Houses of Parliament.
Report and pictures contributed by Oakmeeds Community College.