I’ve been to two events recently that continue to highlight for me the benefits of universal youth services for young people and their involvement in delivering them.
The first was the wonderful day in London at the Houses of Parliment where young people and organisations were recognised for the effort they had put into the recent youth elections. As readers of this blog will know, in March this year, 20,088 young people voted in countywide elections for the current 48 members of the West Sussex Youth Cabinet and four Youth MPs.
There are three levels of Democracy Award: Bronze (for at least 50 percent voter turnout), Silver (70 percent), and Gold (90 percent). A record-breaking number of awards were given out this year to 23 schools, colleges, special schools, a middle school and youth organisations across West Sussex. Young people from each of the organisations stood up and spoke about how they had run the elections in their area. What struck me was the extent in which they had used social media and networks to get the information out and share with their friends in their areas. Some groups had organised hustings, others voted in specifc classes. A number of innovation awards were also given for use of pictorial election ballots different ways of promoting the elections.
I’ll talk more about the next event in my next post.
The weekend before last a group of young carers from West Sussex took part in the 13th Young Carers Festival bringing together young carers from across the country for a weekend packed full of activities at Fairthorne Manor with the support of the YMCA.
This is an annual event and caters for 2000 young carers giving them the opportunity to take a break and spend time with peers, make new friends and share stories. A range of activities from outdoor sports to crafts, discos & bands on the festival stage this is a fun-filled weekend full of activities. Read more about it from young carers themselves.
Young Carers work throughout West Sussex has developed and has become a great partnership between the Young Carers Service which is part of Social Care and the Youth Support and Development Service. Local groups have been set up across the county and now operate on a fortnightly basis giving all young carers the opportunity to take part in activities especially for them. Alongside this we have an active programme of positive activity days which happen during the holidays providing a range of personal development opportunities where young carers learn a range of different skills and increase their self confidence.
A developing aspect of our work is the creation of a group of older Young Carers (16+) who will be setting themselves up as an independent group to represent the voice of Young Carers and look at Services for them. I’ll report later how it goes!!
WoW! The figures are in and (somewhat belatedly) I am amazed that against a backdrop of restructuing the Youth Voice & Engagement team have managed to encourage and support a record number of young people to participate in the West Sussex Youth Cabinet & UK Youth Parliment elections.
It’s the 11th year elections have been held and they have grown more sophisticated over time with an electronic voting system now in place. However we have mixed and matched this with the more traditional system of ballot papers to ensure everyone can participate. A total of 20,088 young people voted casting a total of 39,163 in both elections, meaning that 23 percent of young people in West Sussex aged between 11 and 19-years-old took part in the democratic process – an amazing accomplishment.
Candidates included young parents, young carers, and young people with multiple needs as the team worked to ensure that as many young people were engaged in the process as possible. There were also some polling stations in foyers, youth centres and mobile provisions.
Almost all the young people voted on to the Youth Cabinet were new to the role and a weekend residential (more later) was planned to start inducting them into their roles.
So – congratulations to all involved and lets hope that this is the beginning of an amazing year for youth voice!!
March is election month for young people here in West Sussex!
Voting is taking place to elect young people to the West Sussex Youth Cabinet, the UK Youth Parliment and also to some of our local Youth Councils.
With voting now open the new Voice & Engagement Team are busy supporting colleagues across the county to enable young people to have their say. Over 60 schools, colleges, youth centres and the youth offending service are all signed up and over 40,000 ballot papers already pre ordered.
What is the West Sussex Youth Cabinet?
The West Sussex Youth Cabinet is a group of 48 young representatives and the 4 UK Youth Parliament representatives, who are democratically elected by young people from all around West Sussex.people from across the county. The Youth Cabinet represents the views of the young people in their areas at county level. Young people attend monthly Youth Cabinet meetings around the county. collect and disseminate the views of their constituents and get involved with a variety of projects promoting young peoples views and solutions. They also liaise and get closely involved with the WSCC Cabinet and meetings with elected members.
Young People have been learning about the Youth Cabinet and preparing election manifestos a range of which can be seen here.
What is the UK Youth Parliment?
The UK Youth Parliament has over 600 representatives (369 seats for elected MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament) and over 230 Deputy MYPs, all aged 11-18.
MYPs are usually elected in annual youth elections throughout the UK. Any young person aged 11-18 can stand or vote. In the past two years one million young people have voted in UK Youth Parliament elections.
Once elected MYPs organise events and projects, run campaigns and influence decision makers on the issues which matter most to young people. All MYPs have the opportunity to meet once a year at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting.
Here in West Sussex young people are voting for 2 MYPs and 2 Deputy MYPs. Have a look at some of their manifestos here
We are anticipating that this will be one of the biggest democratic youth participation events across West Sussex this year and will keep you updated on progress!