City's young people encouraged to make their mark on politics

Jill Colbert launches Make Your Mark with Sunderland Youth Council

Sunderland Youth Council are encouraging youngsters across the city to have their say on the issues that matter to them by voting in the annual Make Your Mark ballot.

The Make Your Mark vote, which runs until October 7th, is the largest consultation of young people in the country and is open to anyone aged between 11 and 18.

Last year saw 8,348 young people (31% of those eligible) vote in Sunderland, the highest number recorded in the North East, while 954,766 nationally took to the polls to have their say on the topics that matter most to them.

This year Sunderland Youth Council (SYC), which is facilitated and supported by Together for Children, are aiming to get 10,000 of their peers voting.

The top five issues in the ballot box will then be debated by the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons in November, an event which representatives from SYC will attend.

Joshua McKeith, 17, an SYC member from Fulwell, said: “Along with the rest of Sunderland Youth Council, I’m determined to reach our goal of 10,000 votes. This is such a great opportunity for young people to have a say on the things that matter. Several schools are involved across the city as this is a phenomenal event to get involved with. It’s not too late, Make Your Mark voting is open until October so we’re calling on all young people to cast their vote and make their voice heard.”

SYC Member Liam Ritchie, also 17 and from Fulwell, added: “Make Your Mark is a fantastic opportunity for young people in Sunderland, and across the country to have their voices heard as part of the largest youth consultation in Europe. The vote not only affects what we work on in Sunderland but is also taken to the House of Commons later on in the year to be debated by locally elected Members of the Youth Parliament.”

SYC, a group of 15 young people aged 11 to 18, works to give a voice to children and teenagers in Sunderland. The group works with Together for Children to help shape services, regularly meeting with staff as well as Sunderland’s councillors and MPs.

To launch the Make Your Mark campaign, the young people met with Together for Children’s new Chief Executive Jill Colbert, who is backing the group in calling for young people across the city to cast their vote.

She said: “It is so important for our future that today’s younger generation have a political voice and feel free to express themselves on the issues that matter most to them. It’s fantastic that we have such involved young people in Sunderland who are working hard to promote the campaign.

“Through Make Your Mark all young people in the city can have a say on what matters to them and it’s testament to SYC’s hard work that we had so many votes come in last year. For many young people, this might be the first time they have taken up the opportunity to engage with the world of politics and hopefully this will spark an interest that lasts a lifetime.”

This year’s Make Your Mark vote is the tenth consecutive year that young people have been invited into the chamber, to debate issues voted on in the national ballot held in schools, youth organisations and colleges across the county.

Voting can be done online at the link below and schools across the city will also shortly be receiving ballot papers. http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark/local-authority/

For more information on Sunderland Youth Council and other young people’s groups in the city led by Together for Children visit https://www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/children-and-young-people/youthgroups

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