Youth Voices: UKYP members grill decision makers

Dorset Echo: QUESTIONS: From left, Natalie Bennett, of the Green Party, Cllr John Osman, the leader of Somerset Council, Sam Foulder-Hughes, Procedures Group Representative for South West Youth Parliament, Cllr Kate Taylor for Plymouth and Tessa Munt, MP for Wells QUESTIONS: From left, Natalie Bennett, of the Green Party, Cllr John Osman, the leader of Somerset Council, Sam Foulder-Hughes, Procedures Group Representative for South West Youth Parliament, Cllr Kate Taylor for Plymouth and Tessa Munt, MP for Wells

DORSET UKYP members James Jones, Natasha Glendening and Eve Laird, along with 40 other members from across the South West, had the chance to question decision makers at a Question Time event at Bishops Hull House in Taunton.

Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, Cllr John Osman, leader of Somerset Council and the youngest female councillor in the country, Cllr Kate Taylor for Plymouth, made a great panel and the afternoon saw lots of energetic debate.

The three main questions asked to the panellists were: 

- Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

- Should mental health services be expanded?

- Should all 16-19 year olds receive funding and remain in education?

These three questions sparked lively debate around the room with all of the young people at some point wanting to comment on what the decision makers were saying.

The major issues seemed to surround the inability for many young people to receive further education due to funding.

Many pointed out that bus fares are extremely high for young people over the age of 16 and not only do you have to pay for transport but there are badly needed supplies and trips within further education that need to be paid for yet many people just do not have the money.

Finally, all of the panellists and nearly all of the young people in the room felt that the voting age should be lowered to 16 so that those younger than eighteen could participate and get their voices heard at elections. For more information about the UK Youth Parliament visit dorsetforyou.com/ukyp or ukyouthparliament.org.uk

What UKYP members have to say

James Jones, aged 13 said: “I believe that all 16 to 19-year-olds should receive funding to remain in education because many bright young people are unable to go to college or university because of funding issues such as transport and stationery supplies.”

Eve Laird, aged 14  said: “Young people should get the vote at 16 because we can get married, have sex, and have children so why can’t we vote? I do however think that some young people have little knowledge of politics and political education in schools needs to be addressed. Mental health services should be expanded because it is just as important as any other illness and young people should not be kept on waiting lists when they really need help.

“All 16 to 19-year-olds should receive funding for further education because, even if young people are trying their hardest to fund their own education, it is sometimes not possible and they need help to gain the best possible grades.”

Natasha Glendening said: “I think that the voting age should be lowered to 16, however, there needs to be better political education in schools so everyone can understand the voting and political process.

“Mental health services should be expanded as it is just as important as physical illnesses and yet isn’t treated as such.

“And 16 to 19-year-olds should receive funding for further education as it’s compulsory for them to stay in education, yet almost impossible for them to get to college or sixth form because public transport is so expensive.

“Funding is necessary to maintain education standards.”

In Dorset, UKYP is co-ordinated locally by Dorset County Council.

The three elected MYPs and three elected deputies meet monthly in Dorchester to campaign on issues that affect young people.

This year these issues include:

Raising awareness of LGBTU (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender union) groups

Getting young people more involved in democracy

Decreased exam stress

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