Every year, the UK Parliament lends its support to the Make Your Mark campaign. This is the country’s largest consultation with young people. Young people vote for an issue they feel to be of the most significance for Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) to debate in the House of Commons. After a day of debating in the chamber, MYPs will vote for one issue to be the focus of the UK Youth Parliament’s campaigning activity over the next year. They will also be discussed before a panel of professionals and Blackpool’s own MYP at the Town Hall on Monday, 4th November at 17:30.
This year, Make Your Mark was altered slightly. Instead of having one box with five issues, we saw three different boxes. The top box was for issues to be campaigned on in all four countries of the UK. The middle box was for devolved campaigns, only to be campaigned on in England. Finally, there was the Local Issue box, wherein young people could write whatever issue they felt was important.
This year, 6,213 young people in Blackpool voted in the ballot. The most important issue overall, as well as the most important UK-wide campaign, was Protect the Environment with 2,666 votes. Given the global protests that have taken place this year, we were not surprised to see that the environment was young people’s primary concern. Blackpool Youth Council, the youth political organisation in Blackpool, have already began planning our action in response to this. We intend to enter discussions with Blackpool Council about having more domestic bins placed around town to make it easier for people to dispose of their waste. This is also because the most important local issue for Blackpool was litter, according to our young electorate.
Top of the list in the devolved box was mental health with 1,891 votes. Mental health was voted as the most important issue for Blackpool in 2017 and then again in 2018. It is now extremely clear that Blackpool’s young people demand action on the mental health crisis. And rightly so, given that Blackpool receives the lowest funding for mental health services in the country and only having 2 specialists in borderline personality disorders when the town also has the highest rates of such disorders in young people. Blackpool Youth Council are preparing to start a campaign which will see posters placed on bus and tram stops featuring techniques to achieve mental ease that don’t all necessarily involve talking. We also aim to change the perception of mental health. People have negative connotations to mental health, but we envision a new image for it where it is seen alike physical fitness, that one can be fit and how it can be an enjoyable experience to become fit. In the same way, one can have good mental health and the journey to that state doesn’t have to be tedious and unpleasant. Blackpool’s Member of Youth Parliament Andrew Speight will prepare a speech on this issue to give in the House of Commons to highlight how strained Blackpool’s mental health services are and to make the desperate plea for additional funding from the Government.
However, it is also to be noted that knife crime came close with 1,764 votes. During the Make Your Mark campaign, Blackpool Youth Council visited two of the town’s police cadet groups and spoke to them about what they feel is important. We heard overwhelmingly that there should be more security cameras in Blackpool’s parks, especially Stanley Park. Police should also target their patrols around parks as it is where gangs tend to gather. The youth council have heard how worried young people are about gangs in Blackpool’s parks and we, as always, stand firmly with them. We shall begin engagements with the police about realising the demand for more cameras in parks to hopefully make Blackpool’s parks safer places for young people to go outside and enjoy.
In addition to these issues, Blackpool’s young people also highlighted their concerns for the other issues on the ballot. It was shown that there is a desire to tackle hate crime (1,676 votes), to end child poverty (889 votes), to introduce a curriculum that teaches life skills (885 votes), to stop street harassment (749 votes), to make the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child statutory law (597 votes) and to welcome refugees (510 votes). There was also a great deal of young people who want to tackle homelessness in Blackpool, the second place issue in the local issues box, as well as addressing drug problems, stopping bullying and creating more youth clubs.
Blackpool Youth Council invite all 11-18 year olds to Blackpool Town Hall at 17:30 on Monday 4th November for our annual youth summit. This is an opportunity for young people across the town to tell us more about why these issues are important to them and raise more issues that haven’t been covered on the Make Your Mark ballot, as well as question a panel of professionals in these fields and Blackpool’s MYP on what they intend to do about these problems. Then, on Friday 8th November, MYPs from across the UK will meet in the House of Commons for the Annual Sitting, where they shall debate and vote upon the issues highlighted in Make Your Mark and vote for one to become the focus of the UK Youth Parliament’s campaigning activity for the next 12 months.
Blackpool Youth Council work for Blackpool’s young people year round, however. Young people aged 11-18 can contact us at any time and we can work with them to raise awareness of issues important to them. Our doors are also open to new members, too. We meet at 17:30 most Mondays until 19:30. Come and visit us at URPotential offices, 296 Central Drive or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Between Friday 26th – Sunday 28th April Blackpool Youth Council (BYC) members attended the Youthforia (YOFO) residential at Brathay Hall, Ambleside. Youthforia is the North West Youth Forum which involves young people who are part of youth councils from all 23 North West local authorities and all Members of the UK Youth Parliament. YOFO hold different residentials and events throughout the year to get young people across the North West together to share and discuss different ideas to help get young people’s voices heard.
The residential consisted of young people from across the North West coming together for a weekend of various workshops, discussions and debates. The first full day involved choosing which sessions the young people wanted to do, which included sessions such as ‘how best to communicate and work with young people on the autistic spectrum’, ‘working with and influencing decision makers’, ‘working with leaders in education to maximize engagement’ and ‘reducing your carbon footprint’ The afternoon sessions consisted of activities, such as canoeing, orienteering, ropes, banner making/art and creative talent, which were rehearsals for the awards ceremony which was to be held later on that evening. The Youth Focus North West Young Citizens Awards Ceremony took place in the evening where their groups, young people and workers were all nominated. Afterwards, there was a silent disco, which the young people enjoyed and everyone could get involved, as the young people could choose different types of music they wanted to listen to, and was inclusive as some people didn’t like the loud music playing, so they could still attend and chose the volume as well as the music so they would still enjoy themselves.
On the Sunday, the groups were split into different areas of the North West (BYC were in the Lancashire and Cumbria area group) and discussed what each of their council’s had been up to and what they had planned for the year, which was interesting to share different ideas and get any tips for what the group could get involved with or do in the future. The last part of the weekend was a big debate which was based around if the young people thought it was right to interrupt people’s day-to-day life because of campaigning and protesting against different causes, such as climate change. Which was a great session to hear different people’s views on the topic.
The YOFO residential is always a great event for the young people to get involved with and attend as it’s a great source of getting new ideas from other councils in the North West, and builds their confidence by them meeting and talking to new people.
The next YOFO event is a 1 day event on the 22nd June at Edge Hill University, where members of BYC will attend to share ideas with other Youth Councils once again.
Bethany, one of the members of BYC who attended the residential, said;
‘I believe that the weekend was amazing, I learnt so much from so many different people and heard many views that I may not have thought about before. It inspired me to change things in my local area for the better. I believe that everyone can have their voices heard if they just try hard enough.’
If you would like more information about BYC, or would like to join, contact April on 01253 344398 or email email@example.com
On Monday 18th February 2019 elections were held at the Town Hall to elect the new Member of Youth Parliament and the Deputy for Blackpool. The candidates read their manifestos to the audience followed by the online votes and paper votes being collected resulting in 15-year-old Andrew Speight, a pupil of Highfield Leadership Academy successfully becoming the newly elected Blackpool Member of Youth Parliament. Andrew based his manifesto on Education, Work and Crime. Katie Lagden, 14 years old, a pupil from Montgomery Academy was elected Deputy member of Youth Parliament. Both Andrew and Katie are passionate about having youth voices heard and are keen to work with local decision makers to see a difference and make changes across the town.
Harry Bates- Outgoing MYP: “After two years my term as Blackpool’s MYP is over. I would like to thank everyone who supported me over these two years and offer the best of luck to Andrew and Katie. I fully support these two in their roles and continue to take an active role in Blackpool Youth Council. As Lancashire Representative for Youthforia North West I will support everyone in Lancashire in fulfilling their role at all levels.”
Connor Danson- Outgoing DMYP: “Following their recent elections, I hope that the new UKYP representatives for Blackpool can continue to make young people’s voices heard. I would also like to say that as the now former DMYP, it was a privilege to represent the young people of Blackpool for the past 2 years.”
Andrew Speight- Newly elected MYP:
“I am delighted to be able to serve the young people of Blackpool and play my part in getting our voices heard. I look forward to campaigning and raising awareness of issues that young people are facing.”Katie Lagden- Newly elected DMYP:
“I look forward to putting the opportunity to good use.”
This Year’s International Women’s Day Theme is Balance for Better
Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change
To support the theme this year we are inviting all girls and young women, parents, grandparents, carers and guardians to come and celebrate with us and take part in our interactive workshops and share experiences.
The day will comprise of:-
Inspirational Women Workshop, Basic First Aid Training, Street Dance Workshop, Arts and Crafts, Nail Art, Makeup and Massage, Cupcake Decorating, Face Painting and more
Join us on: Saturday 9th March 2019, 10am till 1:30pm
At: The Oracle, 49 St Anne’s Rd, Blackpool FY4 2AP.
To book a place or for more info please contact 01253 344398 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Consent forms must be completed on the day or prior to the event for all U16’s.
URPotential are thrilled to announce that they have attracted a 1year investment from the Community Foundation for Lancashire through their Tampon Tax Community Fund.
The tampon Tax Community fund aims to Build Skills and Confidence, Improve Health and Well-being and Build Social Networks for women and girls.
The Girls Matter project is a 12month project that will focus on young women’s
Safety, building skills and confidence. It will be delivered to young women
13-25yrs around keeping themselves safe and well. The young women will
co-produce and co-design the project delivery to ensure it meets the current needs of young women. The young women will develop social action projects that will raise awareness of staying safe to the wider community in Blackpool.
We will work with specialists in self-defence, yoga and relaxation therapy. The activities will take place in the evening and at weekends across venues in Blackpool.
In an ever changing world it is vital that young women can protect themselves and stay safe be that physically or online.
“ URPotential are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious funding to support young women in Blackpool. Personal safety has become an issue of importance for everyone, but especially for young women. This project will offer safe keeping strategies and tips on how to stay safe combined with practical self-defence strategies and confidence building” said Linda Markey Director of URPotential.
For further information, please contact URPotential office on 01253 344398.
Notes to editors re Community Foundation
Blackpool Youth Council are electing a new Member & Deputy Member of Youth Parliament to represent Blackpool. A Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) & Deputy Member of Youth Parliament (DMYP), are individuals aged between 11 and 18 elected by youngpeople to represent their local area on the UK Youth Parliament.
The roles of Member and Deputy Member of the Youth Parliament are based around providing a loud and active voice for the young people that they represent. This includes working in their local area with the likes of councillors and their own MP. They may also liaise with community action groups, schools, colleges, youth forums and youth centres in order to widen their audience. They also act on a regional basis, attending meetings in which they work on developing the issues they feel most important to young people.
The election period is now live and ends mid-February 2019, with the final voting event being on 18th February at the Town Hall. The information attached explains this position in more detail and has an expression of interest page to be completed by the young person. They will then receive more details about the next steps and writing their manifesto.
URPotential are thrilled to have been awarded the Wyre Civil Society of the Year Award. Our Fantastic staff & volunteers work closely with Wyre Council, High Schools, Community associations and other organisations to privide a much needed service to young people and adults in Wyre. This award recognises all their efforts and achievements and will enable us to continue and build on the hard work we already do!
What an amazing experience our LGBT Coordinator recently had on a trip to the Barbican Theatre in London to watch Romeo and Juliet. This marvellous opportunity was provided by The Grand Theatre Blackpool who we are working with to provide opportunities for young people to experience the arts on another level and gain accreditations. The performance by The Royal Shakespeare Company truly brought the play into the 21st century with energy, style with a few new spins to reflect modern society. Many of the cast were young, there was plenty of diversity, and everyone spoke their lines in what appeared to be their personal genuine accents of Yorkshire, Scotland, London, Ireland and beyond. There was some nice touches around gender and sexuality in that Romeo’s male best friend had a crush on him, and a traditionally male character was played by a female actor. Phill Fairhurst from The Grand provided great company on the trip and we got to meet and speak to the cast during the after party about URPotentials LGBT young peoples’ future involvement with the Royal Shakespeare Company and their visit to The Grand Theatre next year.
During the evening of 14th November 2018, Blackpool Youth Council held their annual youth summit, this is where the top 3 issues from the national Make your Mark campaign were discussed. These issues were voted for by Blackpool young people, which were Mental health, Put an end to Knife Crime and A Curriculum to Prepare us for Life.
Mental Health was an issue that the young people felt strongly about. Young people from the audience questioned about exam stress, the general points were made that the exams can’t change in terms of content however the resources available can be provided and services can be changed to help support younger children during this period. Another point that was made was the resilience levels and how it should be taught in schools/colleges and how to sign post if needs be. Factors that affect mental health in schools and colleges especially during exam periods were due to cost as the panel members stated it is more cost effective to have exam halls rather than one to ones. An issue that was also raised about mental health, the stigma is still present and schools have a lack of knowledge around supporting young people with mental health, the panel suggested away to reduce the stigma by using different language rather than using more academic words for example using Mental Wealth rather than Mental health. Lancashire Police in particular highlighted they are working to talk more openly about Mental Health, and are encouraging the workforce to be more open about difficulties It was highlighted that there was a lack of knowledge about support services to help young people deal with their mental wellbeing.
An extra topic discussed was based around asking the panel about why LGBT young people feature so highly in suicide and homelessness statistics and what is being done to address it. The panel highlighted the work done by the voluntary sector such as URPotential are doing. The program Stacey Dooley did around homelessness in Blackpool/Manchester was discussed, with the good work by Streetlife being highlighted, however this is only a temporary solution with only eight beds, so there needs to be more support in Blackpool. There was a discussion around where is the safest place for young people to go, as home may not always be a safe place to return. The police acknowledge previously they may have sought to take young people home to family but now listening to young people and asking where they feel safe. The importance of relationships being highlighted. Young people should feel supported to identify people they feel comfortable to talk to.
The discussion around knife crime revealed that knives and other offensive weapons are being carried by young people, undetected. Recorded knife crime in Blackpool however, is very low compared to other areas across the country, with the police stating stats show 1 person under 18 years of age being the victim of knife crime in Blackpool since January 2018. Young people said that many people felt unsafe living in Blackpool and that a feeling of safety and protection was a primary cause of knife possession. There was also a consensus that knife crime should be a topic that schools should educate their students upon. The panel were also surprised when the question was put to the audience regarding how many people knew someone who carried a knife, with around ¾ of the room raising their hand.
Curriculum for life was a point of discussion where it was discussed about the lack of knowledge people have about basic life necessities for example how to cook and iron. A questionnaire was given out to all young people on the night asking if they agreed with the topics of Curriculum for Life and if these were of the same importance. Additionally, it was asked if the topics were currently being taught already, and where from. From this Blackpool Youth Council are planning to work with local young people to design a Curriculum for life package that school can adopt.