Why You Should Run For Bristol City Youth Council
Lilian, who is currently on the Bristol City Youth Council, wants you to join her.
As a youth councillor, you would have access to many of the most significant decision-makers in the city…
Increasing numbers of young people are feeling let down by and detached from the people who make decisions on their behalf. This feeling exists on a national scale, reflected by just 40% of 18-24 year olds voting in the last election, as well as on a local scale. How many young people in Bristol are fully aware of what goes on inside City Hall? As a result, young people are increasingly overlooked when MPs, councillors and those in positions of power make the vital decisions impact their lives.
The Bristol City Youth Council (BCYC) exists to tackle this, by providing young Bristolians with a platform, a voice and the power to influence change. As a youth councillor, you would have access to many of the most significant decision-makers in the city, and your role would be to represent the views of the young people of Bristol in order to ensure every Bristolian is spoken for. Consisting of 28 young people from across three constituencies in Bristol (North, South and East Central), the Youth Council brings together young people from across the city to discuss the issues most important to us and our peers.
In February 2015, at the beginning of the current Youth Council’s term in office, we devised a manifesto that outlined our priorities for the following two years. Based on our own and our peers’ experiences and concerns, our top three priorities were decided to be: physical and mental wellbeing, Bristol’s European Green Capital status, and volunteering opportunities for young people in Bristol. Since then, many hours have been spent – in Youth Council meetings, with city councillors – striving to fulfil our goals. Each campaign consists of many steps that may seem small – like creating a series of posters with advice on keeping a healthy state of mind – but all contribute to the bigger picture and the end result.
As a Youth Council we also debate the issues important to young people – as a city and as a country – from feminism to the European Union. However, to remain open and accessible to everyone throughout Bristol, we are committed to remaining apolitical – our first and most central priority is to speak for young people.
…our first and most central priority is to speak for young people.
And the Bristol City Youth Council is not limited to just a city-wide perspective. Each year, two young councillors are internally elected as Bristol Youth Mayors, who have a unique opportunity to represent the views of young people directly to the Mayor. Similarly, two young people are also elected as members of UK Youth Parliament – which enables the Youth Council to collaborate with democratic groups for young people across the country.
Also on a national scale, the Youth Council each year takes part in the Mark Your Mark campaign, which encourages young people across the country to vote for the issues most important to them – be it political education, mental health, or votes at 16.
From a personal perspective, my three years on the Youth Council has taught me some significant lessons. But most importantly, I feel the prevailing message has been this: people really do care what you have to say. MPs, councillors, the Mayor, your friends and family – if you have a genuine passion, or a real desire to see change on an issue, people are willing to listen. The current issue we have as a country, with ever-greater numbers of young people feeling disenfranchised with the political system, only exists because not enough groups like BCYC exist. I’ve met some brilliant and passionate people; made fast friends; met with councillors and the Mayor multiple times; been on local radio – and that’s not all.
So go for it: stand to be a member of Bristol City Youth Council in the upcoming election. Speak out about an issue that you care about. Or nominate someone who you think should stand. You won’t regret it.
How To Be A Candidate
If you want to stand as a candidate in the Bristol Youth Vote you’ll need to be:
- 11 to 18 years old
- living in Bristol or going to school or college in Bristol
See the Bristol Youth Vote 2017 presentation to see why you should get involved.