Hackney's Member of Youth Parliament debates in House of Commons
Hackney’s Member of UK Youth Parliament represented the borough in the House of Commons, as young politicians from across the country debated key issues affecting their peers.
Ife Grillo, 16, of Bridge Academy, joined in the discussions on 15 November. The topics up for debate were: A curriculum to prepare us for life; Zero tolerance to bullying in schools; Combating youth unemployment; Better work experience and careers advice; and Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections.
Nearly half a million young people, aged 11-18, voted on a shortlist of 15 topics. The top five were discussed at the meeting, which was chaired by the Speaker of the House, The Rt. Hon. John Bercow. Shadow Leader of the House Nick Hurd and Labour Chair of the Backbench Committee Natasha Engel were also present.
The debates were broadcast live on BBC Parliament and on BBC 3’s Free Speech programme.
Ife said: ''Going to the House of Commons is great, but going to represent Hackney is something pretty special. Speaking in such an amazing place made me realise why I love politics and encourage every young person to get involved in it.
“The best thing to see was the response from people in power. The chair of the Backbench Business Commission promised to put forward to the Houses of Parliament whatever the Youth Parliament voted on. People are finally respecting youth voice so it's important we use it wisely.”
The group voted to take two of the issues forward as their campaigns for 2014; A curriculum that better prepares people for life and Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections.
Ife spoke out about lowering the voting age to 16. He told the House: “They say we're not engaged enough but as students we all have strong opinions and the level of debate and engagement has increased. They say youth are not mature enough but we are expected to make decisions that will shape the rest of our lives. Voting at 16 gives us a direct platform to influence change.”
Our young people are really engaged in what’s going on in the world around us, and Hackney Youth Parliament – and the UK Youth Parliament – are just one example of that. We work closely with them to take on board their ideas and they really do help to shape Hackney; whether it’s designing activities for young people or helping those in authority to understand what young people want and need. Ife is a great ambassador for Hackney and I’m delighted he took the opportunity to speak out on behalf of our young people at such an important debate.
For more information about Hackney Youth Parliament visit www.younghackney.org.uk and click on 'Get Involved'.