Youth MP plays her part in national debate

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The youth parliament representative for the local area attended a recent national debate in the Commons to make sure young people’s voices are heard.

Representatives on the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) spoke in the body’s annual House of Commons debate at Westminster. The event is aimed at picking key issues for members to campaign on in the year ahead.

The five topics for the debate, attended by Hastings, Bexhill and Rother MYP Charlotte Thomas, were selected by a ballot of young people across the country – including a record turnout of almost 7,000 in East Sussex – as part of the Make Your Mark campaign, supported by the East Sussex Youth Cabinet.

Charlotte, 15, from Helenswood Academy in St Leonards, said: “Although I didn’t get to speak, it was still an amazing experience and I didn’t mind because I still felt like I’d contributed.”

The debate, was screened live on BBC Parliament and attended by 258 MYPs.

It was opened by William Hague, leader of the House of Commons, and chaired by Commons speaker John Bercow. Delegates picked a campaign for a living wage of £7.65 per hour and a call for improved mental health services.

County councillor Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council lead member for learning and school effectiveness, said: “The youth parliament is an excellent way for young people to influence debate on issues which affect them and to witness democracy in action.

“Speaking in the House of Commons, where so many great orators have debated over the years, is an experience they will never forget.”

The UK Youth Parliament is an initiative run by charity The British Youth Council in which more than 600 young people work to ensure the voices of their peers are heard at national, regional and local level. Members are elected annually in every part of the UK.