Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 15.28.49SUNDERLAND’S MEMBERS OF UK YOUTH PARLIAMENT (MYPs)  are travelling to Westminster today (Thursday 12 Nov) to take part in a national debate.

Elected by the young people of the city to represent their views as Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Brian Terry (16) from Chapel Garth and Luwam Habte (17) from Washington, will join more than 300 of their colleagues at the House of Commons.

This is the seventh consecutive year that young people have been invited into the chamber, to debate five issues decided by 968,091 votes in the annual, national ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot.

The debate will decide which one should become the main campaign of the UK Youth Parliament for 2015/2016.

The five issues for national debate are;

–       A Living Wage; ‘ Everyone should be able to live comfortably. Everyone aged 16 or over should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.85 per hour (£9.15 in London)’

–        A Curriculum to prepare us for life; ‘Schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum

–       Transport; ’Making public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all’

–       Mental health; ‘Services should be improved with young people’s help and mental health education should be compulsory and challenge stereotypes’

–       Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish; ‘All young people should work together to combat racism and other forms of discrimination, and ensure we know the dangers of such hatred’

The MYPs are the only other group ever invited to hold session in the Debating Chamber of the House of Commons, and represent the views of young people from across England and Wales.

Young people are elected every two years, with every school and youth organisation in Sunderland invited to put forward candidates to represent the city.

Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Pat Smith said: “I am sure that our Members of Youth Parliament will represent the views and opinions of young people in Sunderland well at Westminster.

“We can all very proud that young people in our so city are so interested in getting involved in helping to shape the future of our city and our country in this way.

“The fact that the MYPs are the only other group ever invited into the Debating Chamber at the House of Commons to hold this annual event shows how important a role they can play in influencing future policies.”

MYP for Sunderland Brian Terry, a student at St Robert of Newminster Catholic School and Sixth Form College said: “As an MYP for Sunderland, I am determined to have young people’s voices from my city heard at the House of Commons and cannot wait to represent them.

“More than 6000 young people across our community have already expressed which topics they feel most passionately about for this year’s annual debate through voting in our city’s ballot in the national ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign, which has helped us identify those issues most important to 11-18 year olds from the city”

Fellow MYP and pupil at St Robert of Newminster Luwam Habte added: “ I am looking forward to joining my MYP colleagues at the House of Commons  to debate the most important issues facing young people in today’s society.

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“We all have an important role to play in shaping our country’s future and it’s important that our contribution is recognised at national, regional and community level at events such as these.”

After Friday’s debate, chaired by Speaker of the House of Commons Rt.Hon John Bercow MP and broadcast live on BBC Parliament, MYPs will vote on which issue will become themes for their national 2016 campaign.

Both of Sunderland’s MYPs are also members of the Sunderland Youth Parliament which meets every Wednesday at Sunderland Civic Centre and is open for any young person (11-18) to attend.

For more information on how to get involved with the Sunderland and UK Youth Parliament please contact Sunderland City Council, Children’s Service’s Participation and Engagement Lead, Jane Wheeler at jane.wheeler@sunderland.gov.uk