THE BLOG

From the Ballot Box to the Front Bench: How UK Youth Parliament Is Reshaping UK Democracy

13/11/2015 12:08 GMT | Updated 12/11/2016 10:12 GMT

UK Youth Parliament is an organisation run by young people for young people, consisting of democratically elected members aged from11 to 18. Throughout the year they work tirelessly to represent young people, locally and nationally. As autumn returns so do MYPs; to the green benches of the House of Commons.

From July until October, MYPs, their deputies and fellow youth councillors gave up time to work on the Make Your Mark campaign. This allows young people across the UK to identify and vote for an issue that they feel deserves national attention. The top five issues from this unique referendum are taken to the House of Commons to be debated and voted on; the outcome will determine what our campaigns for the next year will be.

Broadcast live on BBC Parliament from 11:10am on Friday 13 November, the UK Youth Parliament's House of Commons sitting is available to all to view. It is set to be an interesting watch, particularly as this year it features a motion never debated by UKYP before: tackling racism and religious discrimination.

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MYPs have been welcomed into the chamber since 2009, with significant support coming from the current speaker, the Rt Hon. John Bercow MP, who said: "The record number of ballots in the vote to select issues to be debated at the annual sitting of the Youth Parliament demonstrates that it is a showcase event for young people and the issues that matter to them. I am pleased that the House of Commons can offer the Chamber as a platform for young people to share their views."

15 locally elected MYPs will fill the front benches, acting as debate leads - for each debate one will argue for, one against and one summarising. Elected as the south west's debate lead, I will be giving the summation for the debate on tackling racism and religious discrimination. As nervous as I may be, standing in the same spot where Clement Attlee announced the creation of the NHS and more recently David Cameron introduced same-sex marriage, I will be proud to be the first young person from Wiltshire to stand at the dispatch box.

The session will be rounded off with 'My Magna Carta' to commemorate the 800 years since the introduction of the Magna Carta. Certain MYPs have been elected to give a three minute speech about what the historical document means to them.

Friday's event will be a real eye opener for many, introducing them to the work of the UK Youth Parliament and showing them the platform we have created. For the young people across the UK it will show them just how much their voices matter, and how desperate we are for them to be heard. But most of it all it's vital for democracy in the UK. When such a large portion of the population often go unnoticed, it's time we stood up for them.

For more information on the event, here.