From this month, young people aged 11 – 17 who live in Somerset or go to school, college or a youth club here have the opportunity to influence change by nominating themselves to stand for election as a Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP).
Nominations are open, and the deadline closes on midnight Sunday 12 November. Somerset’s MYPs represent 3 areas – Taunton Deane & Somerset West, Bridgwater & Sedgemoor, and South Somerset & Mendip. Those wishing to stand should visit the Council’s Democracy and young people webpage to register their interest.
Somerset’s 3 elected Youth Parliamentarians and their deputies represent Somerset at the national UK Youth Parliament. The County’s current MYPs will hand over to the newly elected MYPs from January to March next year, and their new term of office runs from March 2024 until February 2026.
MYPs are supported by an Advisory Group of self-selected young people aged 11 to 18 from all backgrounds. They bring a range of experiences, opinions and abilities, and Group members take part in consultations, decision making, planning and grant giving, as well as campaigning on their chosen manifestos.
MYPs are elected by local young people in the schools, colleges and youth clubs who’ve registered an interest. Young people can also ask how they can vote by emailing the Youth Parliament team at YouthParliament@somerset.gov.uk.
All local 11- 17 year olds can register to vote for 3 candidates in total, 1 from each area. Voting takes place from Monday 13 November to Friday 15 December. Candidates are notified of the results by Wednesday 20 December, followed by a public announcement in early January 2024.
Information sessions take place on Thursday 28 September and Wednesday 4 October from 5.30 to 7pm via Zoom. These give potential candidates, parents and carers, teachers, tutors and community youth workers the chance to meet current members of Youth Parliament and the Advisory Group, and to ask questions about what’s involved. To book a space, please use the Youth Parliament and the Advisory Group’s online booking form.
All candidates need to attend an ‘Election Information and Development Day’ from 9am to 4.30pm on Saturday 9 December at Donyatt Village Hall. They’ll take part in activities and workshops about understanding ‘Youth Voice’ and influence, representation, running a campaign and public speaking.
All candidates get a certificate and recognition of their participation and learning, and are invited to join the Advisory Group. They get the same support and development opportunities as successfully elected MYPs, and opportunities to run projects alongside the official campaigns.
Jas, a current Somerset MYP in Sedgemoor and Mendip, said:
“We should be working alongside decision makers and services, especially where things affect our lives; consulting, advising, coming up with ideas and solutions – telling them what concerns us and what we need.”
Joel, also a current MYP in Taunton West Somerset, said:
“No-one should work with or for children and young people unless our voices are included continually and consistently. ‘Youth Voice’ should be fixed at every level of decision making in services, to get the best outcomes possible.”
Tessa Munt, Executive Member for Children, Families and Education at Somerset Council, said:
“Young people will inherit the problems of today, and are the decision-makers of the future. This is why it’s so important that they have their say about the services and issues that affect them. I would encourage every young person who wants to voice their opinions to consider nominating themselves for the Youth Parliament, and for every single young person in the county to vote in the elections to make sure they are represented fairly and properly. MYPs are there to make sure your views are heard by the people who make decisions. When the time comes, vote!”