Cornwall’s Members of Youth Parliament deliver a succesful ‘Make your Mark’

School aged young people aged between 11-18 years have recently been taking part in the ‘Make your Mark’ campaign. This campaign is about raising issues that are important to young people. In Cornwall, the campaign is run by our MYP’s, helped by the 11+ service at Cornwall Council.

This year the MYP’s have excelled at the campaign with a record number of votes – 7829 – being cast.

The top eight issues the young people voted on are diverse, and show the maturity of our young people. These are:

  1. Living wage; everyone should be able to live comfortably. Everyone aged 16 or over should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.85 per hour (£9.15 in London). – 1761 votes
  2. A curriculum to prepare us for life; Schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum. – 1208
  3. Mental health; services should be improved with young people’s help and mental health education should be compulsory and challenge stereotypes.– 754 votes
  4. The end of austerity and child poverty; young people want to see investment in their lives and the lives of others in order to end poverty. – 671 votes
  5. Transport; make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all – 653 votes
  6. Climate change Government should keep its promise to work globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 °C, and raise awareness locally.– 646 votes
  7. Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish. All young people should work together to combat racism and other forms of discrimination, and ensure we know the dangers of such hatred. – 607 votes
  8. Fund our youth services; don’t cut them. Youth services provide us with vital support, development opportunities and positive activities – 580
  9. Votes at 16 Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all public elections and referendums including the upcoming EU Referendum – 478 votes
  10. Extended special needs support; There should be more, not less, help for young people with special educational needs, including those with learning difficulties and dyslexia – 471 votes

From these ten, the top three will go forward and collated with other areas MYP’s choices. Then, when the MYP have their take over day in Parliament, the top three nationally will be debated in the Commons Chamber. The MYP’s are the only group others than the MP’s themselves who are allowed to sit on the Green benches in the House of Commons.

I firmly believe the voice of the 11-18 year old (and younger) is important, yet with no statutory voting for those under 18, young people feel frustrated their views are not fully heard. This is why Make your Mark is essential, as it gives a powerful voice to the issues and concerns that are important to young people. I am fully supportive of this campaign and the role of the MYP’s in speaking up for the young people of Cornwall.

Well done MYP’s. And well done to the staff in the 11+ team who has supported them.

The young people of Cornwall elect its Members of the Youth Parliament

Cornwall’s Member of the Youth Parliament elections were decided on Saturday afternoon at New County Hall with the announcement of who topped the poll and was duly elected as Cornwall’s MYP for the next two years.

18 young people stood and from that three were elected as Cornwall’s representatives in the youth parliament. A further three we elected at deputy MYP’s who will support and if needed will stand in for the three MYP’s. The MYP’s will represent the West, Mid and East of Cornwall. There was nine candidates for the West, six for Mid Cornwall and three for the East.

It was great to see so many young people stand for this election. Their campaigns would rival those who stand in local and national elections with a mix of talking to their peer groups, social media and the use of online videos to get their message across. I was very impressed with the standard of campaign material.

The names of those elected are: Owen Davies and Joseph Lander (dep) for the West; Cameron Sykes and Saffron Blake (dep) for the Mid and Owen Winter and Tabitha Wethers (dep) for the East. In total, 5597 votes were cast. Well done to those who were elected, but congratulations should also go to all those who stood.

The election would not be the success it is without the dedication of the Staff at Cornwall Council’s Youth Services and the schools who helped facilitate the election by allowing students to vote in school and distributed the voting codes. Those schools who excelled at student participation were also awarded with certificates.

The school who had the highest voter turnout was Cape Cornwall with a 74% turnout. Followed by Liskeard 63%; Brannel 61%; Wadebridge 60%; Richard Lanner  a 52%; Launceston College 43%  and Helston College 39%. In total 30 schools took part. It was not only schools who had a good turn out, but  Penzance Housing Project got a 100% turnout.  Thank you schools.

As with any election, the real hard work starts once you have been elected. I am certainly looking forward to working with Cornwall’s MYP’s and helping them solve the issues they raise on behalf of the young people of Cornwall.

The newly elected MYP's and deputy MYP's for Cornwall and me

The newly elected MYP’s and deputy MYP’s for Cornwall and me

Cornwall’s MYP Election under way and it is a record breaker

The elections for Cornwall’s Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP) are under way. Officially the election started on Monday, and will run till Friday 6th February, The results will be made public on Saturday 7th at election event at County Hall. This election event would be run like it is a general or local election.

I said previously, Cornwall Council is conducting this election electronically, with all votes cast online. The aim of voting online is to make it easier for young people to cast their votes. The team behind the election has done a fantastic job in getting all but a couple of eligible schools signed up and engaged in the process. I am really proud of the team behind this election.

So far, the team have issued over 32,000 individual voting codes. This is a staggering amount of codes issued. So it is looking like the 2015 MYP elections will be a record breaker with potential votes cast. It is great to see 19 candidates standing for election. Again, a record breaker. To vote and to stand for office, you need to be aged between 11 and 18.

I am certainly looking forward to the results event, but more importantly, working with Cornwall’s MYP’s in representing young people of Cornwall. For more information on the elections, including voting, and the list of candidates click HERE

Cornwall’s Election for Young People

With all the local and national coverage you certainly know there will be an election happening later this year.  However, before we get to the May General Election, there is an important election that will be taking place between 28th January and 6th February. What is this election? Well readers, it the equally important election for the Members of the Youth Parliament.

There are almost 120,000 children and young people up to the age of 18 in Cornwall, and these elections are a real opportunity for them to help shape their own future. Research shows that older people are traditionally the largest group who vote in national elections which means that their concerns and issues are taken seriously by the main political parties.  I want to see decision makers locally and nationally listen to and act on the concerns and issues facing young people and taking part in these elections is a good start in making this happen.

In November 2014, I made this comment that n the 2010 elections over 75% of over 65’s voted and the receive free bus travel, free tv license’s, free prescription, winter fuel allowance and many more items. Only 44% of 18 to 25’s voted, they had EMA taken away, tuition fees tripped and youth services are being slashed. If you don’t vote you don’t have a voice.

The MYP election takes place every two years in Cornwall and fits in with the national programme. The process formally begins in the autumn term where candidates are recruited through schools, colleges, youth projects, and other youth organisations across Cornwall.  The elections and candidates are then promoted through schools and projects from January into February when the election takes place.  All young people in Cornwall aged between 11 and 18 can stand as candidates and vote in the election. Those succesful candidates take up office in February.

Cornwall’s MYP election will also be the first year voting will be completed using an online format; young people will need a Unique Voting Code (UVC) to enable them to complete the voting process. This is exciting, as if we can organise electronic for young people, then why can’t we do this for town and parish, county and if possible, national and European elections. The number of votes cast will be monitored daily and published on the website. In the 21st Century, we really to look at alterative methods of voting and one I think should stand alongside the Polling Station and the postal vote is electronic voting.

To help encourage schools and colleges to get involved in the elections process this year there will be a Democracy Award Scheme with schools and colleges taking part receiving a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award based on their level of participation. To receive a Bronze Award 50% of young people in the school or college must vote in the election; to receive a Silver Award 70% must vote, rising to 90% for the Gold Award.  The online voting site will monitor the turnout for each school and college, with progress reports being sent to each one during the voting period.

The Candidates for the MYP Elections are:

Let’s hope these MYP elections have a great turnout with as many young people taking part by voting. It is important to #haveyoursay



Young People from Bosnia-Herzegovina visit Cornwall

Last week, 12 young people from the towns of Mostar and Stolac in Bosnia-Herzegovina visited Cornwall to learn more about Cornwall’s culture and exchange experiences with the young people from Cornwall. The exchange has been organised by the Nansen Dialogue Centar in Mostar, and Cornwall Youth Forum.

I had the privilege of meeting the Bosnian-Herzegovian young people when they came to New County Hall for a  presentation on Saturday. I was asked many questions both in my role as the Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People and that of the governance of Cornwall Council; and how it impacts on young people in Cornwall. Their English was excellent, as were their questions. It showed these 12 young people were really engaged in not only the issues in Bosnia, but now having an understanding of issues in Cornwall.

As a final part of the day, I was given a presentation on the weeks visit. From that presentation, you could see the strong links which been formed between the young people of Cornwall and those of Mostar and Stolac. I hope the young people from Cornwall will be able to experience the culture of Mostar and Stolac in the near future.

Huge credit should go to the organisers in both countries for an excellent exchange programme.


The young people of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cornwall give their presentation

Young People’s Question Time at Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council hosted a Young People’s Question Time in the council chamber today. Organised by the young people themselves via the Cornwall Youth Forum and the MYPs, the event was split into two panels. The audience was drawn from various schools in Cornwall.

The first panel consisted of George Eustice MP, Cllr John Wood – Chairman of Cornwall Council, The Director of Public Health and three MYPs Amy, Tabitha and Talia. I was invited to the second panel and was joined by Dan Rogerson MP, Anna – Senior Manager Directorate Support of Children’s Service and three MYPs, Jaspa, Tia and Ben.

The topic for the second panel were on the Curriculum for Life, youth employment and opportunities. It was good to hear all the panel members agree on the idea of the Curriculum for Life, which includes subjects of relationships and sexual education, financial education, political education and Health and Wellbeing which includes mental health issues being mandatory taught in schools.


Many of the young people in the audience raised the worry of debt by going to university and actual jobs once they have finished. The panel spoke on how it was important for young people to get the best advice before they make their educational choices. Explained how people only start to pay them back when you receive a certain income. In fact, many people never pay back their loans within the repayment time.

The last topic, public transport, got the most questions from the audience. Questions raised from the lack of a reliable service, or service at all. the state of the buses and the huge cost of using public transport. The young people asked why they cannot have a concessionary fare scheme like those over 65 receive. Sadly, the panel had to explain that many bus routes are run without any subsidy from the council and therefore, the council had no say in the service. The same with the pricing. I wish it was different, and there was money available to subsidies more routes.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the event and I hope the young people in the audience got the answers they wanted. It would be good to have more events like this, with different panel guests drawn from areas that concern young people

Official Youth Representation on a Cornwall Council Committee

Today saw a massive step in forward of getting young people involved in decision making at Cornwall Council. After a few years of talking about and working on the idea via a Single Issue Panel (SIP) of the now defunct Children’s Scrutiny Committee; a very positive decision has been made by the Children and Young People Portfolio Advisory Committee (CYPPAC) to allow official youth representation on the CYPPAC. This now means Members of Youth Parliament (MYP) will now be part of the CYPPAC committee structure.

By having the MYPs taking part, policies and services that concern youth can have a very early youth view. This will lead to I hope services that the youth want. Today’s decision will allow the MYPs to have access to all the relevant information enabling them to take part in the decision making process. With this information The MYPs will also consult other young people groups – via a clear structure – asking for comments before coming to the PAC to feed in the views of children and young people. It would be great if every youth group had a direct access to the CYPPAC, but that would not be feasible.

I feel this is just the first rung of a very important ladder of getting young people involved in how the Council carries out it business and more importantly, influences polices. In time I hope other PACs will a adopt similar process.

For me, this was one of my main priorities as a former member of the scrutiny committee and now as the Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, something I fully support. I did hope the PAC would give a unanimous decision of having official youth representation on the PAC, but sadly, one member decided to vote against the proposal.

The document surrounding the process and original report can be found HERE

Cornwall’s New Members of the Youth Parliament

On Saturday, I was invited to attend the final stages of the elections for Cornwall’s MYPs. It was good to see so many young people take over the council chamber for the event and give speeches that could give any Cornwall Councillor a run for their money.

During the event, the Candidates from the three MYP areas, West, Mid and East Cornwall, were given the chance to say why they should be elected. It was extremely impressive to hear very well put together points, with humour and perfect delivery. I would expect to see one or more of these Candidates again, not just MYP, but elected to Cornwall Council.

As with any elections, there are winners and losers. I hope those unlucky not to be selected this time continue to raise youth issues and help support the MYPs.

Here is a selection of photos from the event

The MYP Candidates and delegates gather for the 2013 MYP Election.

The MYP Candidates and delegates gather for the 2013 MYP Election.

The 2013 MYP Candidates

The 2013 MYP Candidates

The elected MYPs

The elected MYPs with Cllr Burden (Portfolio Holder for Children, Schools and Families) and Soozie Tinn (Youth Coordinator)