5.3 Youth representation bodies
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LAST MODIFIED ON: 13/10/2020
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Welsh Youth Parliament
A Welsh Youth Parliament was launched by the National Assembly for Wales in June 2018, and works directly with the National Assembly. It is a platform for young people to use their voice on issues that they care about, and ensure they are heard by policy-makers on a national level. The aim of the Youth Parliament is to empower young people, raise their awareness on important issues, listen to and represent young people, and work with young people.
The Welsh Youth Parliament comprises 60 young people, aged 11 to 18. Voter registration is officially open for those aged 11 to 18 years old and potential candidates can register to stand for elections to become Welsh Youth Parliament members. 40 of them are elected, and the remaining 20 are elected by partner organisations, this is to ensure diversity and inclusion of all groups of young people. Elections are held every two years. Young people must register to vote online. The first elections were in November 2018.
UK Youth Parliament
Wales has a representation of 24 Members in the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP), a UK-wide initiative run by the British Youth Council (BYC) in partnership with Children in Wales (CiW). Children in Wales is the national umbrella membership body for organisations and individuals who work with children, young people and their families. Through its youth participation project, Young Wales, it is funded to facilitate Welsh participation in the UKYP.
All Members of the Youth Parliament meet once a year at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting. Climate change was declared the top concern with over 800,000 people voting for this issue via the Make Your Mark ballot. You can read about the other issues covered and watch the sessions here. The next session will be held in November 2020.
UKYP aims to give young people a voice, which will be heard and listened to by local, regional and national government, providers of services for young people and other agencies who have an interest in the views and needs of young people. As well as the Annual Sitting, there is a sitting in the House of Commons, regional meetings, dialogue with Ministers and Opposition spokespeople and inputs to policy and programme development. There is a rolling programme of activities, events, campaigns and projects across the year.
As Members of the Youth Parliament are elected from local authority areas, they also receive support and funding from local authorities’ budgets.
Youth councils and/or youth advisory boards
Youth Forums are groups representing the voice of young people at the local level. They meet with their local authority (LA) to discuss issues which impact on the lives of young people, and to bring about change. LAs are responsible for deciding how their forum works; no central guidance is provided. Young Wales provides links to all of the youth forums across Wales.
Some LAs also have a Youth Cabinet, composed of Youth Councillors, elected either by peers or from the Youth Forum, The Youth Cabinet may elect a Youth Mayor. The Youth Cabinet offers young people aged 11-25 challenging opportunities for participation and consultation, involvement in decision-making and volunteering with the aim of improving their community and the lives of those who live there.
See ‘Formal mechanisms of consultation’ for more information on representative bodies at local level.
Higher education student union(s)
National Union of Students Wales (NUS Wales) was established in 1974 and is a confederation of students’ unions, representing over a quarter of a million students from both the higher and further education sectors.
NUS Wales is an autonomous 'special region' of NUS UK (see this subheading in the description for England), setting its own policy, electing its own Executive Committee at its annual conference, and campaigning on the issues that affect students studying in Wales.
In addition to three full-time officers (President, Deputy President and Women's Officer), there are five autonomous Liberation Campaign officers who are supported by their committees:
- NUS Wales Black Students’ Officer
- NUS Wales LGBT+ Officer (Women’s place)
- NUS Wales LGBT+ Officer (Open place)
- NUS Wales Students with Disabilities’ Officer
- NUS Wales Welsh Language Officer.
The term of office for all elected officers is one year, to a maximum of two years.
NUS Wales' budget for the year is decided at NUS UK's Annual Conference but the Welsh Executive Committee retains control over expenditure. The finances and staff of NUS Wales are managed by the Director of NUS Wales who also serves as a member of the management team of NUS UK.
School student union(s)
There is no top-level body representing secondary school students. It is Welsh Government policy to encourage schools to involve students in the life of the school and school (or pupil) councils are a statutory requirement (see ‘Non-formal and informal learning’ in '“Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning’). These councils are not, however, organised into networks or an umbrella organisation.
The British Youth Council (BYC) is an independent UK-wide charity run for and by young people which works to empower young people and promote their interests at a local, national, European and international level. The Youth Voice Leadership Development Programme, a BYC flagship event, brings youth representatives from across the UK together for training courses to help develop their leadership skills, that will support them become successful representatives for their peers and community.
The Youth Select Committee, is a BYC initiative, supported by the House of Commons. There are eleven committee members, aged 15 to 18, and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor, and reserved seats and representatives from each devolved nation. It forms part of the Youth Voice programme run by the BYC and includes one elected representative for Wales. It enables young people to participate on a national level – hold inquiries into issues that they care about to influence policies.