Charlotte (Year 11) was voted onto Youth Parliament in March this year for a term of two years. I interviewed her for an update on her experiences…
Q: What does being a member of YP involve?
Charlotte: I meet with the other Norfolk YP members once a month at County Hall – there are nine of us and it’s really interesting and rewarding. It’s certainly made me more aware of how politics works and the big political issues.
Q: Are you aligned with any particular political party?
Charlotte: No. YP is politically neutral, but we do obviously all hold our own views and I enjoy being challenged by the various different opinions.
Q: What kind of things does YP debate?
A: We’ve been looking at issues such as tackling racism, introducing the vote for 16 and 17 year olds, improvements that are needed in mental health services for young people, and the introduction of a curriculum for life – which would give young people more knowledge of financial and political issues, for example. We were involved in choosing the issues to include in the national Make Your Mark Ballot.
Q: What is the Make Your Mark ballot all about?
Charlotte: It’s a national initiative from YP – in September and October nearly a million young people from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted on what they consider to be the most important issue for them. As YP members, we were responsible for deciding which issues to offer as options on the ballot. I went to York for the annual sitting, the first part of the narrowing down process. We debated each of the issues and then chose the top ten for the ballot paper. Then on 11th November there was a gathering of YP members in the House of Commons to debate on which two issues would become the national campaign focus for 2017.
Q: Did you go to that?
Charlotte: No – I’ll go next time! We take it in turns and I was selected for the York sitting. But I watched the debate as it was televised, and found it really refreshing and exciting. When you see MPs in the Commons, to be honest it all looks a bit tired and cynical and to me they all look and sound the same! But with YP there is so much more diversity and it feels like a more even split between the genders and ethnic and religious backgrounds. It gives me hope for the future!
You can find out more about Youth Parliament including videos (and some photos featuring Charlotte) on Norfolk Youth Parliament Facebook page.
The photo below shows Charlotte in a school assembly at HOHS before she was elected, explaining the role of the Youth Parliament and why she wanted to stand.
Liz French, Editor