The Members of Youth Parliament for the next two years were revealed last night at the Civic Offices, after months of campaigning by the three teenage candidates.
Councillor David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council, attended the evening to present the results of voting carried out across the Swindon area in schools, colleges and youth groups. In all, over 2000 votes were cast by the young people of Swindon, showing that the campaigns and issues being presented by the prospective members are worth talking about.
Cllr Renard revealed that the Member of Youth Parliament for the next two years in Swindon would be Chloe Townsend, with both of the remaining prospective candidates, Jacob Patterson and Danielle Wells, becoming the Deputy Members, a move only sanctioned by the British Youth Council on the day of the results.
Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) are elected annually in every part of the UK. There are currently hundreds of MYPs.
Once elected MYPs meet with MPs and local councillors, organise events, run campaigns, make speeches, hold debates and ensure the views of young people are listened to by decision makers.
Swindon’s outgoing MYP’s, Ellie James and Wilfred Steenbergen attended the results event to offer their advice to the newest additions to the UK Youth Parliament. Both told of how the last two years of being an MYP had been ‘the best experience of their lives so far’ and that they had made connections that would support them throughout their careers.
Paul Dobson, Project Manager for the Swindon Ten to Eighteen Project (STEP), co-ordinates the Youth Parliament process in the Swindon area, and was full of praise for his outgoing MYP’s as well as looking forward to working with the newly elected members. He said: “I want to express my thanks to Ellie James and Wilfred Steenbergen for all their hard work and dedication over the past two years. Being an MYP is a huge commitment and I wish them all the best in their next big step, wherever that may be.
“Being an MYP is a big undertaking, we appreciate that at STEP, so we are here to offer guidance and tuition in public speaking, the workings of the Youth Parliament and build their confidence.
“The British Youth Council have allowed us to have two deputy members this year because we explained how well the three candidates worked together at our Candidate Day late last year, and their campaigns focusing on key issues for the youth of Swindon really gelled together to cover all the bases that we aim to highlight. It was a perfect match, and we couldn’t be more proud to welcome our newly elected MYP’s.”
The most important aspect of any MYP’s job is to make sure they represent the views of the young people in their constituency. Any MYP can set up a campaign, and any young person can support it and make a difference.
The MYP candidates all had to campaign on an issue that mattered to them, with Chloe Townsend focusing on mental health and wellbeing, Jacob Patterson campaigning for greater access to fitness and health facilities for younger people, and Dani Wells highlighting the issue of learning difficulties in the education system and how they still go unnoticed or unsupported in a lot of cases.