Make Your Mark is an annual youth ballot of 11-18 year-olds organised by the UK Youth Parliament. This year’s results were announced on 10th March after 434,492 young people (7% turnout) voted to order seven themes that were chosen by the Youth Parliaments members and steering group. Each topic had “some examples of what it could include”.
“The results will be used to decide what the UK Youth Parliament should campaign on in 2022-2024”. Results, full report, comment and links below.
MAKE YOUR MARK – RESULTS 2022 (March 2022)
1/ 93,023 votes – Health and Wellbeing: (Improved Access to Mental Health Support, End Food Poverty, Banning Gay, Conversion Therapy
2/ 81,068 votes – Jobs, Money, Homes and Opportunities: (More Training & Apprenticeships, Ending Homelessness)
3/ 77,070 votes – Education and Learning (Improved Climate Education, Free University, Better Mental Health Education)
4/ 74,500 votes – Environment (Climate Change, Plastic Pollution)
5/ 53,358 votes – Poverty (End child poverty)
6/ 28,024 votes – Our Rights and Democracy (Votes at 16, freedom of speech, building a better relationship between young people and Government)
7/ 27,349 votes – Covid Recovery (Including young people in the Recovery plan)
Scroll down for infographic and full results report.
What does this survey/outcomes mean for youth policy development? The aim of these ballots in the past has been to add weight and a mandate to the work of the Youth Parliament in informing and influencing the impact of specific youth-led campaigns and representation to decision-makers at all levels. Depending on the topic chosen, the target for campaigning could be UK wide , devolved or to local government, or even to non-government based decisionmakers – for example an anti-bullying campaign targeted schools and headteachers to respond to young people’s concerns. The Youth Parliament as a whole, backed by the British Youth Council, would then focus on raising the profile of a few of the most popular campaigns.
This year the ballot has listed seven general topics within which there is more flexibility for local areas to campaign on specific issues. The results report says that the new broad approach to themes “will mean newly elected Members of Youth Parliament will be able to conduct localised research to better understand how an issue impacts upon the communities and people they stand to represent.”
How this will translate in practice and whether there will be follow up to assess local priorities and impact, is therefore yet to be seen. The national result will also inform what the Youth Parliament and the British Youth Council decides to focus on nationally. Given that specific examples were listed underneath some of the broad themes suggests that these could be the focus. At the launch event on Facebook guest discussed the three examples under the number one theme Mental Health and Wellbeing “improving access to mental health support” “ending child poverty” and “banning gay conversion therapy” The discussion (recommended watch!) included advice on how to plan a campaign effectively.
The news item announcing the results also signposted that “Moving forward UK Youth Parliament will work with its partners sought further input from young people on ending child poverty, improving access to mental health support, and banning gay conversion therapy.”
In previous years young members of UKYP proposed, debated and votes on specific campaigns to go on the ballot with the subsequent priority issues being debated at a special assembly of around 100 reps in the House of Commons, who then voted on one national campaign since 2010. These campaigns were usually the subject of a subsequent Youth Select Committee inquiry the following year which resulted in a Government response as part of a process to inform and influence public policy development. Popular campaigns have included – Votes at 16, Curriculum for Life and Mental Health. Many of the campaigns addressed ‘themes’ of inequality, discrimination and under-representation of young peoples issues, and focused on making specific differences.
The Youth Parliament is a programme managed by the British Youth Council with grant funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (including the Youth Directorate) and supported by a range of other partners and local authorities. The Government recently (Feb 22( published a response to a Youth Policy Review reaffirming its commitment to supporting youth engagement with Government on policy development.
Northern Ireland has established a devolved youth assembly.
These have their own systems for determining their activities and campaign priorities at a devolved level and have formal relationships with the devolved administrations.