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Eighteen Cumbrian hopefuls for the UK Youth Parliament

L-R: Jacob Reid, Matthew Suddart and Lucia Harrington

[T]he UK Youth Parliament Elections take place in March, and eighteen candidates from across Cumbria are busy campaigning as they seek election to become one of three new Members of Youth Parliament (MYP) for Cumbria.

The eighteen candidates have been nominated from all six districts across three geographical regions of the county – North (Carlisle & Eden), West (Allerdale & Copeland) and South (Barrow & South Lakeland).  Nominations took place between October 2017 and 12 January 2018, with all potential candidates required to attend training activities, submit a manifesto, and prepare a campaigning strategy.

The candidates are now campaigning in schools, academies and colleges across the county, delivering presentations in assemblies and taking part in hustings events. A marketing website, featuring all of the Cumbrian candidates and their manifestos is also available to view at http://www.mi-event.info/event/cccukyp18.

Voting opens on 26 February and all students at participating schools, academies and colleges will be provided with an individual ballot card, which has a unique code to enter on the voting website, ensuring young people can only cast their vote once.

The successful candidates will take over from the three current Cumbrian MYP’s – Jacob Reid (Carlisle & Eden), Matthew Suddart (Allerdale & Copeland) and Lucia Harrington (Barrow & South Lakeland).  The trio have had a busy year in office, most recently attending a UKYP debate in the House of Commons in November, chaired by Commons Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

Once voting has finished, votes will be counted and the results will be announced on Friday 16 March 2018 at County Hall in Kendal. The candidate in each geographical area with the highest number of votes will become the MYP. The candidate with the second highest number of votes in each geographical area will become the Deputy MYP. In the case of an equal number of votes for two or more candidates, a separate election will be held involving the candidates in question and then the same rules shall apply until a candidate is selected.

One of the first duties of the newly elected Cumbrian MYP’s will be to host a residential ‘Youthforia’ conference at The Brathay Trust near Ambleside in April.  This will be attended by MYP’s from across the North West region and will be the first opportunity for the newly elected MYP’s to discuss their ideas and themes for the year ahead.   They will also contribute to selecting  the top ten issues to be considered later in the year as part of the national Make Your Mark ballot.

The Make Your Mark ballot enables young people all over the country to have a say on the issues that affect them in their communities, and these are then considered for national debate by their locally elected MYP’s. Last year’s ballot revealed that the top three issues for young people in Cumbria are: Transport, Young People’s Mental Health, and a Curriculum to Prepare Young People for Life.

John Macilwraith, Director of Children and Families Services at Cumbria County Council, said: “Last year I set a challenge for our MYP’s and 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 was overwhelmed at the response with more than £18,000 votes cast on a range of issues that affect young people in Cumbria.  Standing as a candidate in the UKYP election is a fantastic way to learn about representing the needs and interests of your peers, and how democracy works in action, and I wish all the candidates the very best of luck.”

Jacob Reid, current MYP for Carlisle & Eden, said: “The UKYP is unique in the way that it empowers young people, giving them an elected representative on a local and a national level. Here in Cumbria, we have established strong working relationships with our MPs, putting issues like young people’s mental health on their agenda. MYP’s have also been running effective local campaigns, and in the last two years, Cumbrian MYP’s have spoken three times in the House of Commons debates, on issues such as transport. Youth democracy has never been stronger in Cumbria and I look forward to seeing how the new MYP’s will continue to take it from strength to strength!”

Councillor Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The UK Youth Parliament presents an amazing opportunity and platform for young people. 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 UKYP election, whether standing as a candidate or simply casting a vote, is a fantastic way to learn about democracy. Well done to everyone taking part and good luck to all of the candidates ahead of the election!”

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