[C]umbrian young people have been voting in the national Make Your Mark ballot, a campaign to encourage 11-18 year old’s to vote on their top issues.
Young people in Cumbria cast a total of 18,746 individual votes, making Cumbria one of the top five areas for total number of votes cast – behind Lancashire (24,894), Glasgow (20,801), Manchester (20,668) and Kent (19,292). This is a huge success given Cumbria’s comparatively smaller population to other parts of the country.
The top issues from the Make Your Mark ballot are debated at the Houses of Parliament by the UK Youth Parliament, a national forum of 300 young people. The UK Youth Parliament will sit in the House of Commons on Friday 10 November 2017 in a televised live debate broadcast on the BBC Parliament television channel. All three of Cumbria’s Members of Youth Parliament (MYP) will be in attendance.
Cumbria’s three Members of Youth Parliament (MYP) are Matthew Suddart (MYP for Allerdale & Copeland), Lucia Harrington (MYP for Barrow & South Lakes) and Jacob Reid (MYP for Carlisle & Eden). With the support of the government and opposition parties, the UK Youth Parliament runs national campaigns (including the Make Your Mark ballot) to improve the lives of young people across the country by giving them an opportunity to have their say on the issues that affect them, and give a voice to Cumbrian youngsters through their elected MYP’s.
Members of Youth Parliament aged 11-18 from across the country will take part in the annual debate in the House of Commons Chamber on Friday (10 November), chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. They will debate five issues chosen through the Make Your Mark ballot, and then vote to decide which two issues should become the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaigns for the year ahead.
Earlier this year, John Macilwraith, Director of Children and Families Services at Cumbria County Council, challenged the six district Youth Councils to make the 2017 Make Your Mark ballot the best ever. Following visits by Youth Councillors to schools throughout Cumbria (including hosting special assemblies to promote the importance of young peoples’ representation), a total of 18,746 Cumbrian young people took part (representing approx. 59% of the county’s 11-18 population).
John Macilwraith, Director of Children and Families Services at Cumbria County Council, said: “Earlier this year I set a challenge for our Youth Councillors – to go out and speak to as many young people as possible in Cumbria to understand their views and the issues they wanted to be discussed on their behalf. I am absolutely overwhelmed at the response – almost 20,000 votes cast on a range of issues that affect young people.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you and well done to all of the young people who took part, and our three brilliant MYP’s – this is a fantastic way to learn about how democracy works, and representing the needs and interests of your peers.”
The results show that the top three issues for young people in Cumbria are: Transport, Young People’s Mental Health, and a curriculum to prepare younger people for life. Particularly impressive is the work of Youth Councillor’s Jessica Ford-Powell and Lucia Harrington, who both secured over 1,000 young people’s votes. They are now UK Youth Parliament ‘star performers.’ Beacon Hill Community School in Aspatria also had a 100% return – with all pupils casting a vote in the Make Your Mark ballot.
Councillor Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “This is an outstanding achievement, it’s so important to understand how representation works and to highlight the issues that matter to young people – they are our leaders of the future, and engaging in the Mark Your Mark ballot is a fantastic way to learn about democracy. Well done to everyone who took part and good luck to our three fantastic Members of Youth Parliament ahead of their debate at the House of Commons this week!”