Southend’s youth make their mark

Published Monday, 26th November 2018

Alex in Parliament

The Member of UK Youth Parliament (MYP) for Southend and Southend Youth Council led this year’s Make Your Mark ballot; the UK Youth Parliament’s largest annual consultation of Young People.

This year’s consultation has seen 1,106,788 young people take part across the UK, making it one of the largest youth consultations of its kind in UK history, with  one in five of all young people aged 11-18 taking part.

Southend gained its highest voting turnout so far as a result of the hard work by both the MYP, Alex Small, members of Southend Youth Council and the support of local schools and youth groups in the borough.

Southend had the second highest voting percentage for the East of England region. From a turnout of 36.83% eligible voters in 2017 to 39.87% for this year, there has been an additional 439 young people participating, totalling 6,128 young people who have had their voice heard both locally and nationally.

Cllr Helen Boyd, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “Young people in Southend are becoming a real political voice, both locally and nationally, and we are incredibly proud of the work put in by the youth council and Member of Youth Parliament.’’

“The Make Your Mark ballot has proven a real success and has given Members of Youth Parliament a chance to discuss the issues facing young people across the country, and specifically in Southend.

“Furthermore, as young people are often criticised for not voting, it is extremely pleasing to see the overall turnout for the youth elections is higher than those we generally see among the electorate in general elections. Getting young people politically engaged can only help ensure they continue to vote and make their voices heard later in life.”

The five issues that have been prioritised from the ballot are:

  1. Put an end to Knife crime - Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
  2. Mental Health - Mental health services should be improved with young people’s help; and should be available in schools.
  3. Equal Pay, Equal Work - Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
  4. Tackling Homelessness - Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
  5. Votes at 16 - Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/referendums.

These issues were debated on Friday 9 November during the UK Youth Parliament’s eighth sitting in the House of Commons, which was chaired by John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons. Alex Small, Member of Youth Parliament for Southend attended the event.

Alex Small, Member of UK Youth Parliament for Southend, said: ““I was honoured and privileged to attend the House of Commons last Friday to represent Southend in deciding which of the issues chosen by over 1.1 Million young people across the UK would become the National Youth Parliament campaigns.

“After a spirited and well-informed debate, we arrived at a verdict of continuing the campaign to achieve Votes at 16 and knife crime.”