Slough Youth Parliament helps shape Commons debate

Published: 14 November 2018

Youth parliament members from across the country met at the House of Commons in Westminster on Friday (9 November) to debate the topic of the UK Youth Parliament’s (UKYP) next national campaign.

Slough was represented at the debate by youth parliament member and Baylis Court school pupil, Raakhi Sharma, 17, who made her case for votes at 16.

This is the fourth year Slough has been represented in the House of Commons debate.

Ending knife crime and votes at 16 were selected as the UKYP’s next national campaigns.

These motions were two of five debated in the House of Commons chamber in a special session chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, and broadcast live on BBC Parliament.

Raakhi Sharma, member of UKYP for Slough, said: “It was an unforgettable experience and inspiring to see so many passionate young people.”

More than 200 UKYP members aged 11-18 took part in the debates nationally. Topics were voted for by young people during the Make Your Mark ballot – the biggest youth consultation in the UK, which asked more than a million young people to select their top issues during September.

This has been a record breaking year for Slough as 11,215 young people participated in the ballot through their secondary schools or local youth groups. Slough achieved the highest percentage turnout for the South East region and the second highest in the country with a 95 per cent turnout.

Sixteen secondary schools took part in the ballot, as well as Langley College and youth groups from the YES Consortium and Active Slough.

The five issues with the most votes in Slough were ending knife crime, mental health, equal pay for equal work, tackling homelessness and a curriculum for life.

Slough’s Youth Parliament will now bring the results of the national debate and local ballot to the attention of decision makers, including local councillors, the MP for Slough Tan Dhesi, the Slough Association of Secondary Heads and the Wellbeing Board to discuss next steps.

Councillor Shabnum Sadiq, cabinet member for children and education, said: “I continue to be inspired by the young people of our town and the passion they have for Slough.

“This year’s exceptional 95 per cent voting turnout clearly shows how engaged and interested Slough’s young people are in politics and the big issues that affect them, both now, and in the future.

“Raakhi stood in the House of Commons and delivered a compelling argument to lower the voting age in the UK.

“The council voted in support of lowering the voting age in all elections back in 2015 and this is a commitment we stand by today.

“We will continue to work closely with the Slough Youth Parliament and its members to advance their campaign to lower the voting age to 16.”

Slough Youth Parliament is supported by the Young People’s Service, Slough Borough Council.

For more information on Slough’s Youth Voice initiatives, email sloughforyouth@slough.gov.uk.