Today’s blog comes from Bristol’s Youth Mayors, Alice Towle and John Wayman.
Young people are vital to democracy. Our voices are the ones that should arguably be listened to the most as we are the people that will have to live with the consequences of the decisions made by today’s politicians.
This is why International Youth Day is so important in highlighting the significance that young people’s voices can and should hold. This year’s theme for International Youth Day of “Youth Engagement for Global Action” seems particularly important at a time when young people from countries around the world are uniting to combat global threats such as systemic racism and the climate crisis. This theme seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions.
So today we wanted to highlight to you some of the ways your voices can be heard on these stages as young people!
The 3 levels of engagement the UN are focusing on this year are:
- Engagement at the local/community level;
- Engagement at the national level (formulation of laws, policies, and their implementation); and,
- Engagement at the global level.
There are so many ways you can get involved with these both in the UK and abroad.
Bristol’s community-level youth engagement is arguably its strongest asset. We have a youth council with 33 elected and 5 co-opted members, who represent a wide variety of viewpoints and areas. You probably have one or more members in your school. We hold elections every two years, however due to covid our next elections are not going to be until 2022.
In the meantime there are loads of ways to get involved. Our campaign meetings are public meetings that anyone can get involved in and any young person in Bristol is more than welcome to attend. Moreover most of our members are very active on social media and if you contact them then they can take forward any questions that you may have to the rest of the council. In February we will be taking applications for the vacancies we will have for members who are leaving so if you would like to be a part of it then make sure to look out for how to apply.
Our incredible Youth Council gives opportunities to engage young people at the wider national and global levels:
On a national stage we have two amazing Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) and 2 Deputy MYPs for Bristol. The UK Youth Parliament meets a few times over the year and discusses nationwide campaigns. Our MYPs are Molly and Lia. In addition, the Youth Mayors (that’s us!) have recently brought together a network of young mayors from across the UK so we can work together in championing young people’s views.
At a global level there is loads of stuff to be involved in especially through Erasmus+. One of the projects that the Youth Council have been involved in is an exchange programme with young people in Hannover. Over the course of the project we learnt about youth democracy in both of our countries, while also making some lifelong friends.
We are living in times where young people have never been so mobilised and our voices have never been louder. Let’s ensure that our shouts turn into meaningful change and new opportunities for dialogue with our leaders in communities, cities and countries.
For those getting A-Level and GCSE Results in the next two weeks: At BCYC many of us are also year 11s and year 13s, so we know that Covid-19 has had a massive impact on exams and your lives in general. We are interested to hear from you about how you’re feeling about this and want to represent your voices.
Good luck to all of you and remember that if you don’t gain the results you were looking for, then there are still lots of other options going forward.
Please get in touch with us if you would like to, on firstname.lastname@example.org