Our Voices Matter: Youth Voice SW Convention 19/02/15

Hiya everyone!
Today I was delighted to attend my second Youth Voice South West Convention in Taunton. They happen every 6 weeks or so, and it's a great chance for passionate 11-18 year olds to come together to discuss campaigns, get updates on the work other people are doing and chat with friends from other parts of the South West. Young people from all different roles were there: we had D/MYPs, Young Inspectors and even some Young Mayors (links to the websites of those groups will be at the bottom of the page for anyone interested!).

The morning half of the agenda was kindly led by Natacha Tagholm from First Buses, who came to collect young peoples views on the bus services currently operating in the South West. We found that young people living in rural areas and those living in city environments are facing quite different problems. Rural teens are more concerned about the price of fares, buses not being on time, and lack of frequent buses altogether; Whereas teens living in more urban areas are worried about CO2 emissions and traffic jams.

However one issue that we are all really keen to address is the relationship between young people and bus drivers. One DMYP had already run a workshop in her local area where bus drivers and young people had to swap places for the day, e.g. a young person would be 'driving' and selling 'tickets' and the bus drivers would be the passengers. The feedback from this day was really interesting - we learnt that both parties are quick to make stereotypical judgments without getting to know individuals. Bus drivers described young people as loud, rude, disrespectful,  unorganised and rowdy, and young people were quick to assume that all bus drivers are grumpy, old fashioned, patronising, ignorant and unhelpful. We are all keen to make changes to our public transport a priority campaign and I am already working with some other people from my local youth council to create an educational pack aimed at year 7 pupils who will be using the bus for the first time (but more on that another day!).

I could probably talk all day about the need for better public transport services, especially in rural areas, but I'm going to leave it there because this is already getting super duper long and I haven't even talked about the afternoon agenda yet! After some lunch (including the famous youth parliament brownies which are just about THE BEST THING EVER) we welcomed some guests from various different organisations to discuss the living wage and work experience opportunities. 

We did carousel style disscussions with small groups of us talking to each guest for around 10 minutes before moving on. We debated on: The different plans the Tories vs Labour have for combatting youth unemployment, In-school careers advice, Should work experience be compulsory for all schools and young people's thoughts on the living wage. Many interesting, and in some cases controversial, points were raised and it's fair to say that some groups gave the guests quite a grilling (not in a bad way I promise!)! 

It was a really great day and living proof that young people do care about politics, and we want to have our voices heard! On that note, a quick reminder for anyone who'll be 18+ by the General Election in May, MAKE SURE YOU GET REGISTERED TO VOTE! It's quicker and easier than you probably think and allows you to have your say on how the country should be run. There's a great website http://www.leagueofyoungvoters.co.uk that's specifically for young voters and remember to tell your friends to get registered too. Even posting a link on your social media to the aforementioned website could be the difference between someone voting and not voting! Sassy links are below and have an amazing day! :)


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