Young people across Darlington are being urged to vote on which issues are most important to them in the annual Make Your Mark ballot.

The ballot, open to young people aged 11-18 years, will decide what Members of the UK Youth Parliament should debate and vote on to be their campaign for in 2018. The debate will take place in the House of Commons in November.

Last year a record 3,533 young people across Darlington took part in the ‘Make Your Mark’ vote, a 36 per cent turnout, with the top five issues in the borough being a ‘curriculum for life’, cuts to the NHS, tackling racism and religious discrimination, lowering the voting age to 16 and mental health.

This year’s ballot opens this week, when ballot boxes and voting papers will be delivered to secondary schools and colleges across the borough. Young people, aged 11-18 years, who live or are educated in the borough, can cast their vote in school any time before the ballot closes on Wednesday 4 October.

Darlington Youth MP Jessica Halliday, who will be taking part in the debate, said:

“I’d love to see an even bigger turnout for this year’s ballot. This is our chance to let the people in charge know what we think and what issues are most important to us – don’t miss out.”

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, added:

“Each year more and more young people are getting involved with Make Your Mark and voting on the issues that matter to them. I hope that this trend will continue and that schools and colleges will also support the campaigns to help make a difference to young people’s lives.”

Ballot boxes and voting papers are available in local secondary schools, Darlington College, Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College and C: The Box, Priestgate for those on an apprenticeship or NEET (not in employment, education or training), until 4 October.

For more details log onto the website at http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark/ and for more information about Darlington’s Youth MP visit http://www.darlington.gov.uk/education-and-learning/click/darlington-youth-partnership/