Make Your Mark – getting young people involved in politics

Today’s guest blog comes from Lia-Anjali Lazarus, a Member of the Youth Parliament representing Bristol.

I am Lia-Anjali Lazarus. I am 16 years old and currently in school in Bristol. I also represent Bristol in the Youth Parliament alongside other Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP), Molly Flitcroft.

As I pass through conversations in my day, conversing with my peers, in and out of school, on social media, I rarely go through a day without passionate and often angry discussions about the tense political climate and the great injustices so many young people currently face. 

I am in a very fortunate position. After running for the Bristol Youth Council in 2017, I now find myself representing Bristol as an MYP. For me, this is life changing, I finally have the political education I have been hungry for and have a platform to channel my passion for justice and change. 

But where is that political education and engagement for other young people? I know so many friends who feel deprived of a political education and feel neglected by the UK government who run our schools like businesses, factories even. There are overwhelming feelings of being powerless. Youth constantly question “what can we do?” and “how can we bring about change?” 

The Youth Parliament’s role is to represent the views of the youth of the country and communicate their demands to the government. This is structured through an annual UK-wide ballot called Make Your Mark. First, through vigorous debate, the Youth Parliament creates a list of important issues facing young people locally and across the UK. This list is then presented to 11-18 year-olds across the country who are then invited to vote on the issues they care about most. The results of this UK-wide ballot are then presented to our country’s leaders. The results also aid MPs to address the needs of young people in their constituencies.

Running since 2011, Make Your Mark has reached millions of young people with more than 850,000 from every corner of the country taking part in the summer of 2019. In previous years, shortlisted issues have been debated in the House of Commons’ chamber by Members of Youth Parliament. 

The UK Youth Parliament launched its annual Make Your Mark ballot on 1 November 2020 as part of UK Parliament Week. The vote is open until 30 November. 

I cannot stress the importance of youth engagement in these votes. This is a clear way to show the government just how eager and desperate to be heard so many young people are and I am convinced that the results will convey a demand for the great radical change so many of us aspire for. In previous years, paper ballots were distributed and Make Your Mark was promoted by schools across the country. This meant that a very large number of students were included. Because of the pandemic, this year’s ballot is online, making it much harder to get as much engagement as usual. Therefore, if you are 11-18, I implore you to vote! Head over to http://bit.ly/SignUpMakeYourMark, read through the issues and have your say! It is a fantastic opportunity for young people to have a vote, for once!

Thanks for the support. We hope to see a super Bristol vote turnout.

Your Members of Youth Parliament,

Lia-Anjali Lazarus and Molly Flitcroft 

If you have any concerns, have any questions or want to get involved, please contact us! ywparticipation@bristol.gov.uk

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