Mon, Jul 25, 2022
Read in 6 minutes
Read on to find out about my time representing Surrey at the UK Youth Parliament annual conference, from the 22nd-24th July.
My journey started at 7 on Friday morning, when I started the long journey travelling up to Hull. After 6 hours, we got there at 1 pm, which then left us to go and collect our lanyards and new purple UKYP t-shirts, as well as completing an EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) survey. After collecting our packed lunches, we got assigned to our rooms, and to our surprise, all the MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament) from Surrey were assigned the same flat!
After unpacking and having a shower, we began the sessions. We first had the Opening Ceremony, where we had speakers from the Bank of England Youth Forum, the RYCA (Regional Youth Climate Assembly), and two of the BYC (British Youth Council) Trustees. After the ceremony concluded (and we all had a drink), we went into our first regional sessions. As I represent Surrey, I was in the #TeamSouthEast session. We all got to meet each other (after 3 years for some!) and play some games to get to know each other. After a quick 2 hours, we had a quick break and then went to have our buffet-style dinner and network with MYPs from across the UK, before a brief policy motions workshop, where I began to work on my policy motion for the day after. We then had a quiz that the Steering Group ran - I’m going to be brutally honest and say that my team didn’t do that well! Finally, after a long day, it was time for bed, but not before I found out I had to present a policy motion the day after!
On Saturday, I woke up extra early (5.30 am) to ensure that I could finish writing my policy motion in time for the Big Vote. After getting ready, I spent about an hour researching stats that I could use in my speech, but more on that later. I breakfasted at 8:00, before our first regional session at 9. I worked with MYPs from across the South East to discuss our results from the Focus groups we ran, before discussing the big vote session, and how we can all be heard. After a short break, we went back to the theatre, but this time we were there for the Big Vote!
The Big Vote is where MYPs discussed their policy motions, with 7 minutes to discuss each motion before it is passed onto a vote, where we could either vote for, against or abstain from the motion. Over the course of the weekend, we ran through 39 motions, with MYPs voting on the rest for the next couple of weeks online. The motions ranged from Mental Health, to Transport, to Education. We had a wide range and spent roughly 5 hours on Saturday debating them. We also started this session with a special speech from Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who is an ex-MYP, current MP for Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven, and a Trustee for the charity Friends of UKYP, who fundraise for MYPs to have money to complete their campaigns. He spoke about becoming an MYP in 2002, and the changes he made, including attending the UN Youth conference annually from 2002 until the early 2010s. He also took questions from a few MYPs and spoke to a few others before/after his speech. It was really beneficial to have him talk to us about his career.
My motion was in the first session after lunch, and was about LGBTQ+ inclusivity. You can read the motion here [link]. I am glad to say that the motion went well, and after 7 minutes of debate, I am glad to say that it passed with a 76% majority. I really enjoyed being part of the process of proposing and presenting a motion at the conference, and I am thankful for all of the MYPs who voted for the motion, and who have come up to me and expressed their support afterwards.
After we finished all of the motions, it was time for a quick photo call for the next Make Your Mark campaign, all before getting ready for our Formal Dinner and Annual Disco. We were served a 3 Course Meal while networking with MYPs from across the country about various topics, such as our local campaigns, and the dangerous topic of whether Jaffa Cakes are Cakes or Biscuits (spoiler alert, they’re cakes!). This was all before the annual disco, where us MYPs danced away for 2 hours, listening to some disco hits and having an overall great evening!
After a rough night’s sleep (and a dangerously high amount of caffeine), we began the last day of motions and events. We started off by having breakfast and talking to new people - at this point, most people weren’t with their areas, but with new people they had met! It was great to see people begin to talk to others and I know that I have made lifelong friends at this event.
We debated several more motions, with each of them passing. It was wonderful to hear the voice of different MYPs from across the UK, and how their constituents feel about hot-topics in the UK now. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives on issues with things that I had never thought of or had brought up with me, and that’s what is perfect about these conferences: it allows for MYPs to bring back ideas they had never thought of to their youth councils, and solve issues that have never been brought up before.
We then finished with the closing ceremony, where we had a speech from the incredible+ and powerful Jesse Williams, who spoke about the power of youth voice. We then congratulated the BYC staff and Steering Group for running this event, before beginning the 7-hour journey home!
I really enjoyed this conference and have made lifelong memories, new networks and great friends! I loved learning about the issues in other areas that I had never thought about, but are as prevalent in Surrey as they are in other areas around the UK, and can’t wait to begin tackling them. Over the next couple of weeks, I will vote on the remaining motions that never got debated at the conference, and start projects that I am looking forward to running.
With my final few sentences, I would like to thank some key people in running this event, and who have made it amazing for me. Firstly, I would like to thank the Surrey team for taking us and allowing us to have our voices heard. I would also like to thank the Hampshire MYPs who made me feel so welcome whilst discussing issues with them - a lot of our campaigns this year are very similar, or even the same, so we are now beginning to collaborate on them, as well as share the research we have found in our areas, as they are so similar. I would also like to thank our Steering Group Member, Gareth, for hosting the #TeamSouthEast sessions and answering the odd questions we had about various things. I would also like to thank the BYC staff for working tirelessly to plan, prepare and complete this event, especially with the challenges over the last 2 years.
I would like to extend the final thanks to you for reading this, whether you be one of my constituents, a fellow MYP/youth councillor or someone who has just happened to stumble across this, thank you for taking your time to read this. If you have any feedback or would like to ask me any questions, fill out my form here.
Thanks for reading,