Earlier this year, Emily Dormer, Year 12, was elected to represent Newcastle as a member of the UK Youth Parliament. On Friday 13th November, Emily visited the House of Commons to represent the young people of Newcastle on five key issues. Emily writes about her experience.
Since the UK Youth Parliament was founded in 1998, it has done nothing but grow in support. There are 326 Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) representing the Young People of The United Kingdom. The Make Your Mark Campaign, held each year, is the way which we find out what issues matter most to young people around the country. The MYP take the top five issues voted for in these ballots and debate them in the House of Commons every November. We will then go forward with a campaign on the top issue. This year we got just under one million ballots, giving us the strongest mandate yet.
Since being elected to represent the 28,000 young people in Newcastle this February, I have been looking forward to visiting the House of Commons. It is a chance to voice the views of all the young people in the city and we were adamant that Newcastle would not go unheard.
Having only seen the House of Commons from behind a glass screen, filled with 50 year old MPs, it was a completely different experience seeing it from the ground; filled with some of my closest friends with excited grins on their faces.
It is undeniable that the House of Commons is a spectacular building and we pride ourselves as the only external organisation allowed to sit on the green leather. However, we were quick to remind ourselves that we had a job to do.
Something that is unique to Youth Parliament (and often makes the press) is the efforts that MYPs go to in order to get the Speaker John Bercow’s attention. This year an MYP from Plymouth was caught on BBC Parliament falling to the ground in his efforts. (The video was picked up by BuzzFeed and currently has over 450,000 views).
I was desperate to ensure that Newcastle didn’t go unnoticed at Youth Parliament. It got to the last motion ‘The Living Wage’ before I managed to grab the Speaker’s attention. I spoke about the importance of acknowledging the ‘Age Pay Gap’ as equally as the ‘Gender Pay Gap’ (which, as you will know, is prevalent in the media currently). Afterall, a 16 year old is not paid the National minimum wage for the same work as an adult.
The National Issue, which we will campaign on is “Tackling Racism and Discrimination particularly Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.” The Devolved (Local) Issue that we will campaign on will be “Improved Mental Health Services and Education for Youth People with the aim of reducing stigma”.
It is so important that the Government listens to the voices of Young People. Too often, we are overlooked when policies are made and can often be the hardest hit by austerity. I feel honoured and privileged to be able to play a role in promoting The Youth Voice in UKYP.

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