SUPPORTING VOTES AT 16 – back the bill

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Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement and Education) Bill 2017-19

This Bill is to have its second reading debate today, Friday 3 November 2017.

 

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Ta to the British Youth Council

 

Blogs on BYC page

 

The best way for young people to learn about politics is to get involved

 

 

“What we need is a country that wholeheartedly supports and listens to young people”

 

 

“There’s a clear appetite in young people to be involved in the democratic process”

 

 

Network of Regional Youth Work Units’ challenging proposals for a would-be Tory strategy for young people

In this week’s Children & Young People Now you will find an article, Youth work network calls for redistribution of NCS cash. It opens:

Money earmarked for the National Citizen Service (NCS) should be redirected to support cash-strapped statutory and voluntary youth services, a group of youth work organisations has said.

The group in question is the long-standing network of Regional Youth Work Units. And the network’s response to the government’s alleged commitment to a 3-year strategy for young people goes far beyond the matter of Cameron’s vanity project. Indeed we think it is a valuable and challenging contribution to the present debate about the future of both youth work and services for young people. At this very moment, we are exploring whether the network and IDYW might join together to catalyse further discussion. In this spirit and ahead of the appearance of an IDYW paper, ‘Reimagining Youth Work’ you will find below the network’s proposals in their entirety.

 

3-Year Strategy for Young People

What should a 3-year government strategy for young people contain?

The Network of Regional Youth Work Units welcomes DCMS commitment to develop a 3-year strategy for young people. We want to work with the government, youth sector colleagues and young people to ensure that the strategy is a genuine cross-departmental initiative that takes into account the many different factors that impact on young people’s lives and does not concern itself simply with the elements that are included in DCMS’s current brief. We want to see a strategy that fully engages education, health, care, arts, sport, transport and aspires to make England a country where young people are encouraged to feel they are a valued part of the community.

election reform

A starting point would be to respond to young people’s demands for voting rights at 16, which would recognise young people as active citizens whose views are as important as other people in the community. Evidence from the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 showed that young people used their votes responsibly. There are opportunities coming up in elections for Metro-Mayors where votes at 16 could be piloted and evaluated in England. We urge the government to use these elections to test take-up of votes at 16.

We believe there are some important issues to address for the youth sector itself and want to see these emphasised in the strategy.

  • Young people and their parents believe that the people who work with them in youth organisations are trained and qualified in what they do. Increasingly this is not the case as the infrastructure and funding for training youth workers has withered during the austerity years since 2010, and most of those working in youth organisations have no or little access to relevant training and qualifications. Young people and communities benefit from a skilled and confident workforce and it is essential that some resources are found to make training and qualifications available, particularly to those working in voluntary sector organisations, whether paid or in a voluntary capacity. The sector has maintained a coherent framework for training and qualifications, including apprenticeships, and this should be extended and made more widely available.
  • There is a strong emphasis on involving young people in social action in the current government approach, and we support this drive. However, the way in which social action is defined should be broadened, to include more youth-led and issue-based campaigning alongside more formal volunteering. Young people become active citizens in a number of ways, and all possible routes should be included in the youth strategy.
  • Youth work and work with young people now happens in a very wide range of settings, both open access and targeted at young people with specific needs and vulnerabilities. The key elements remain the same, however – building long-term trusted relationships between the worker and young people and working in locations, at times and on issues that are chosen by young people. The notion of social pedagogy, widely used in mainland Europe should be given more serious consideration as an effective way of working with young people, and a youth strategy that provided opportunities to pilot the approach with young people in England would be welcome
  • Finally, resources for work with young people have been greatly diminished since 2010 as a result of local authority cuts and fewer specific opportunities for grant aid for youth organisations from trusts and major funders. The government currently makes a very substantial contribution to one flagship project, National Citizens Service, and we question whether this is the right approach in a time when the youth sector and services to young people in general are under enormous pressure. Investing so heavily in NCS, particularly in its current format of a single 4-week programme for 16-year-olds when in many areas there is no provision available for the rest of the year does not seem to us to be an effective way to support young people into active citizenship. We would advocate for a significant reduction in resourcing for this model of NCS in order to free up money for essential infrastructure such as trained staff and support to voluntary organisations to help them improve their offer to young people and become more sustainable.

The Network of Regional Youth Work Units through its members in regions supports the development of a 3-year strategy and will be happy to work with partners to engage young people and the youth sector across the country.

Youth Vote undecided – Who wants it?

Ta to BYC

Ta to BYC

Youth Vote undecided – who wants it?

– The British Youth Council (BYC) has commissioned a new YouGov poll into young voter attitudes and initial results revealed as part of their manifesto launch, indicate that as many as 2 out of 3 are undecided about which candidate or party they would vote for in their constituency.

– BYC (which represents over 250 youth organisations) launches their new online manifesto video to  highlight its top five challenges to parties and candidates: on Votes at 16, Mental Health, Living Wage, Youth Services, and First Aid in schools.

– The same poll revealed a general voting intention by those aged 18-24 with Labour on 36%, Greens 20%, Conservatives 19%; UKIP 14%; Lib Dems 5%; and SNP/ PC 5%.

On Tuesday 3rd March 2015, British Youth Council (BYC) launched its General Election manifesto and video, and revealed some findings from its new YouGov UK wide poll, which shows 2 out of 3 young voters aged 18-24 have yet to decide who to vote for. The figure is released in advance of a report into youth engagement in the election to be published later this month.

Mita Desai, Chair, British Youth Council said: “In the lead up to this year’s General Election it’s important that we remind everyone that young people are interested in the issues and the it’s now up to politicians to face up to challenge of engaging us – Give us something to vote for! . We’ve launched our five campaigns today because we want more politicians to pay attention to the youth vote. Talk to us not about us. Use our vote – or lose it”

The manifesto – presented in a new online video – sets out BYCs top-five priority agenda for this year’s candidates and parties to consider as they seek the backing of undecided young voters to form a new Government. Our Vision Our Parliament features “votes for 16 and 17 year olds” which topped a poll of its membership, underlining  a persistent call by young people to be included in our democracy. The full list includes:

1. Reduce the voting age for parliamentary and other public elections, across the UK, to 16 years.
2. Recognise that our minds matter, and improve the access to and quality of our mental health services.
3. Ensure that everyone is paid the Living Wage.
4. Take the lead in restoring levels of funding for youth services that has been cut in recent years.
5. Ensure that quality First Aid is a compulsory subject for all children in schools.

Rebuilding the Youth Service from the ruins : ChooseYouth to intensify its campaigning work

Ta to reverbnation.com

Ta to reverbnation.com

Doug Nicholls, Chair of the ChooseYouth coalition has forwarded the following statement of intent and purpose, which we would encourage people to circulate and discuss.

choose youth logo

“ChooseYouth, a coalition of 35 national organisations campaigning for youth work and the Youth Service has had two emergency national meetings recently to plan to rebuild the Youth Service from the ruins. It believes that the plan for votes at 16, for voter registration of young people and investment in quality youth work go hand in hand and public investment will have to be found to fund this.

 

The Youth Service prior to 2009 was funded under a direct government funding line to local authorities. All of them underspent the government’s recommended spending figures. The expenditure figures were collected by the National Youth Agency. Cuts to the NYA’s own funding meant that this annual auditing function was lost. Government funding to local authorities then changed to include the previous youth service funding line under one new block grant for ‘early years intervention.’ Youth Services were then merged into Youth Support Services seeking to integrate a range of specialism largely under a crisis management social work model as poverty, unemployment, family breakdown, inter youth violence and so on created a new generation of young people in difficulties. Problems got worse and worse for children and young people and targeting the most vulnerable became impossible on the reduced funds available. The move to targeted services and away from universal, open access provision only made matters worse.

 

The historic role of youth work as an educational service offering personal and social development to young people outside school and work and offering an entirely unique space for young people to grow and develop and for preventative work to be undertaken was lost. Then the real assault started. We did not face cuts but an ideologically driven break up of youth work and the youth service. No one can accurately assess the damage because it has been so severe. However, it is undisputed that the Youth Service in England is the first public service to actually disappear.

 

Fantastic youth work exists in isolated fragments. The architecture of the post war settlement of local authorities working in partnership with the voluntary sector to provide professionally qualified workers and supported volunteers to work with and for young people to expand their horizons and develop citizenship and collective responsibility has gone. No local authority in England has a Youth Service left. Thousands of youth centres have closed. In fact Cameron’s government has closed far more youth centres than the MacMillan government built. Some young people have committed suicide as result of the withdrawal of these services.

 

So the Youth Service has not faced austerity, it has experienced ruin. The ChooseYouth campaign is undeterred by this shock tactic of destruction over the last four years when the world’s first and most admired Youth Service has disappeared. The one service that young people built in the public sector for themselves with skilled advice to offer comfort, support, informal learning, guidance, adventure, fun and social involvement was attacked as youth unemployment rose, mental health issues for young men increased, youth on youth violence escalated, rioting hit the streets and higher education was made unaffordable to many.

 

Society cannot continue along this path and despite the recent autumn statement which announced effectively of a doubling of public sector cuts ChooseYouth will intensify its campaigning work. Conditions for young people and their educational opportunities have to be publicly funded. This is why we are calling for votes at sixteen a massive campaign of voter registration for 18 year olds and a rebuilt, publicly funded youth service staffed by professionally qualified JNC youth workers with their job title protected in statute. Such workers will support civic engagement and enable young people to lead a renewed sense of commitment to a social and economic future that values our young people first and foremost.”

 

 

Votes At 16 – Lower The Voting Age In All UK Elections to 16 – e-petitions

Votes At 16 – Lower The Voting Age In All UK Elections to 16 – e-petitions.

I’ll leave aside my deep reservations about so-called representative or parliamentary democracy. The Votes at 16 campaign needs our support. By its very nature it raises all manner of questions about young people’s status in society and the influence of the electorate upon the political process, upon relations of power.

Sign the petition and stir things up!

Thanks to Emily Hewson for this link to her blog, where she explains why she supports ‘Votes at 16’

For example she asks,

Is it truly enough to be offering young people “chance to vote” in youth parliament elections, school councils and Student Union elections? Does that fully engage every young person aged 16/17 in democracy? What about those who leave school at 16 and exit the formal education sector?