A Manifesto For Youth
Lilian, from Bristol City Youth Council is here to tell us about the newly elected members’ manifesto, and how it can work for you.
…it’s hugely important to me to engage with young people across Bristol so they have an input into the decisions that effect us…
Hello. My name is Lilian; I’m 17 years old and am currently serving my second year on the Bristol City Youth Council. I represent the young people of North Bristol and am also a media representative, which means it’s my responsibility to spread the news of what the Youth Council has been up to, hopefully encouraging more young people to get involved and share their opinion.
I do what I do because it’s hugely important to me to engage with young people across Bristol so they have an input into the decisions that effect us, which more often than not are made by groups of high-up decision makers with no real concept of what it’s like to be a young person (in the 21st century at least) and the issues that affect us. Our manifesto came about through a desire to lay out exactly what we would like to achieve over the next two years (the length of a youth councillor’s term). Its central objective is to improve the lives of young Bristolians, but there is a particular emphasis on mental health, environmental issues and volunteering in local communities.
…there is a particular emphasis on mental health, environmental issues and volunteering in local communities…
So, using both our converging and diverging opinions, we wrote a manifesto. Essentially, our targets, priorities and plans over proceeding two years. It should be made clear, however, that this is not a political piece: the BCYC is apolitical for one, but our manifesto is also not a personally driven agenda. The BCYC works for the young people of Bristol. We strive to represent your opinions in everything we do. So whilst the priorities outlined in the manifesto are understandably formed partly by personal experience and opinion, we have no doubt that these are issues affecting young people across Bristol.
…using both our converging and diverging opinions, we wrote a manifesto.
Take mental health, for example: BCYC’s number one priority over the course of the next two years. Just over 11% of young people in the UK aged 11-15 suffer from mental health issues. It may come as no surprise to you that there has always been an immense stigma surrounding mental health issues, one that still perpetuates today, and prevents issues from receiving equal treatment with those regarding physical health. Hence BCYC’s campaign ‘Healthy Body, Healthy Mind’ was born, which will endeavour to achieve that equal status, as well as equipping young people with the skills and tools necessary to maintain not just positive physical but also mental health through these hectic, tumultuous years of youth. Through this campaign we also intend to host a number of events, both for young people and the adults that work with and have a responsibility for us (primarily schoool teachers), in order that the conversation surrounding mental health can become more open, frank and accepted.
…equipping young people with the skills and tools necessary to maintain not just positive physical but also mental health through these hectic, tumultuous years of youth.
Next up on our manifesto in Bristol’s Green Capital Year. 2015 has the potential to be a momentous year, not just for this city but also the earth’s future – our future – as a whole. Climate change is an irrevocable issue, the responsibility for which will inevitably lie on our shoulders as the future leaders and all-important decision makers of the country. But in spite of its undeniable importance, Bristol 2015 is not solely focused on climate change and the murky and uncertain future ahead of us: it is also about celebrating our incredible environment and the city of Bristol. This is through encouraging not just young people but all 450,000 of our fellow Bristolians to enjoy spending time outdoors and connecting with the environment through our abundance of green spaces. BCYC plans to work alongside the Bristol 2015 team, with the intention of putting on events specifically tailored towards young people. We hope to raise awareness of the issues as well as enjoying and encouraging new experiences. Fundamentally, however BCYC believes that Bristol 2015 should not merely be these brief 365 days, but rather something with a legacy, leaving behind a Bristol that is changed for the better and for the future.
…something with a legacy, leaving behind a Bristol that is changed for the better and for the future.
And last but certainly not least, BCYC’s neighbourhoods campaign. It goes without saying that in the twenty-first century we’re not as connected with our local area as we may have been perhaps twenty years ago. A neighbourhood is not merely the collection of houses in which we live but has the potential to be a support structure and a way to connect and spend time with those around us. BCYC’s neighbourhoods campaign will strive to increase young people’s involvement with their local area through volunteering, which will enable connections and friendships to be forged whilst building a local network and giving something back to the community. It does seems clear, however, that in spite of the demand for volunteer work, those young people who may well be interested in taking part are simply at a loss as to where to look. Therefore the primary aim of this campaign is to put on a volunteering fair, in which organisations and charities from across Bristol recruit volunteers to help their cause.
As I hope I’ve made clear, myself and the rest of the Bristol City Youth Council have got a lot planned over the next few years. But these campaigns are by no means set in stone, and there’s always room for more.
Remember that as the BCYC we are working for you, and if an issue is important to you, it’s important to us. We’d love to here from you. What do you want to see changed? Let us know: @rifemag
‘To Vote, Always To Vote’ by Huw James