Merton Youth Parliament: a new manifesto and more
Since their elections earlier in the year the Merton Youth Parliament has been working hard to develop their new manifesto.
The Merton Youth Parliament (MYP) is a forum for young people aged 12-17 years and up to 25 years for Special Needs. Merton's children's services are committed to supporting the group to influence and be part of the democratic processes of the local authority
Their work began with an intense training weekend where they learned about Merton the borough, including information about children and young people’s outcomes, equality and diversity, advocacy, and managing themselves. During the weekend the young people agreed on a range of collective values for the MYP.
Since the training the group have met every two weeks in order to plan their manifesto, which is being informed by feedback from the Annual Residents Survey, along with a consultation they conducted with 60 young people at Mitcham carnival. In response to issues raised in the consultations the MYP priority campaign for the year will be related to gangs and youth crime. In order to understand this issue in the Merton context, they have invited Merton’s Youth Justice Service to speak at an upcoming meeting.
Three members of MYP attended ‘The Convention on Brexit and the political crash’. One of our young women, aged 13 asked ‘why are young people are not considered in the discussions around Brexit, and why doesn’t the youth voice matter’. This led to a small panel discussion in which modern philosopher A.C. Grayling advocated for the adoption of votes at 16. Also, young people met Nick Clegg and sought his advice on how he thinks young people should be engaged in decision making. This followed his discussion of this in his key note speech.
Three young people attended the annual British Youth Council event Equality4Us, a ‘table top’ discussion for young people on equality issues. Our young people attended discussions on issues for Black and ethnic minorities, LGBT, and SEN and Disabilities. While they felt that the discussions broadened their understanding of the wider policy developments in these areas, they felt that the forum did not identify any clear and achievable actions for young people to take forward.
In light of the Manchester Arena bombing, MYP wrote to Manchester Youth Council with a letter of solidarity. This was greatly received, and has been passed onto the Head of Service in Manchester and the Northwest Youth Network. We anticipate a growing relationship with Manchester quoting their participation work “this looks like the start of a lovely friendship”. In keeping with their values and the ‘people first’ mind set, MYP also laid flowers at the site of Grenfell Towers.
And finally, the first planning taskforce meeting for the ‘Area Youth Forum’ will be delivered this month (July 2017) by MYP representatives. It is anticipated that forums, which will meet in Mitcham, Morden, Wimbledon, Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon, and Raynes Park, will start from the beginning of the new academic year. They will be quarterly community meetings offering open access to any young person aged 11 – 19 (or 25 for those with SEN or disabilities) allowing young people to voice, discuss and unpack issues affecting them.
For more information on the work of the MYP and Young People’s Participation and Engagement Team please contact email@example.com.