Choose Youth – How we lobbied our MPs

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls meets two young constituents
Al and Emma lobby Ed Balls in his office under Big Ben

On the 25th October The Youth Association took a group of young people to the Choose Youth rally in London to learn about the cuts to youth services, meet like-minded people and lobby their MPs for a review of the cuts.

We had a great day, including an entertaining rally in the Methodist Hall in Westminster, but I think most of the people would agree the highlights were meeting MPs (even if all their own MPs weren’t available).

We're in LONDON!!!
The London Underground, in a brief moment of calm!

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was lobbied by Al and Emma, British Youth Council members and constituents, before jetting off on a fact-finding mission to America. He managed to give advice on local lobbying and a view into Labour’s stance on youth work cuts, all with his flight bag tucked behind his chair. So thankyou Mr Balls, for squeezing us in!

It wasn’t only the shadow chancellor that made the time. Our young people managed to meet Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, Hillary Benn and Tim  Loughton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, among others.

We’d like to thank all the MPs and aides that invited us into Westminster, listened and talked with us, allowing young people to petition them in the lobby between the House of Commons and the House of Lords (where the phrase ‘lobbying’ comes from).

We also managed to record a podcast of the young people’s journey, to be aired early next year, so keep checking back for details.

Phil Sootheran

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4 thoughts on “Choose Youth – How we lobbied our MPs

  1. I found the Choose Youth Rally really, really boring and quite uncomfortable! I found myself sat in a church hall with angry, shouty unionists when all I wanted to hear about was young people.

    But… the lobbying of MPs was AMAZING! I loved every minute of it! I loved meeting MPs and talking to them about issues that affected me. I met with a few MPs in the actual Palace of Westminster and it was amazing to be in such a close proximity to the MPs I’ve seen on the TV, yes, I did feel quite star-struck! I even saw the Speaker’s procession, and he made eye contact with me and I will not lie that I enjoyed every minute of it haha.

    When we gathered in the Choose Youth epicentre (in a church that I can’t remember the name of) I got interviewed by Channel 4 news. Unfortunately it wasn’t aired on TV, and with loads of young people taking photos of me behind me, I must admit that I can’t blame them! It was amazing to be interviewed by TV, it was such a surreal experience! I met with three MPs: Alec Shelbrooke, Stuart Andrew, and Hilary Benn, but not my own MP, which was a shame. I also had a brief encounter with David Davis (the less famous one), who was just as pleasant as all the other MPs I had met. This trip to London opened my eyes to politics with a big P, and that MPs are willing to listen to their public and will take what issues they have on board. I’ve heard all about how other young people who’ve been there have kept in touch with their MPs and they’ve been working together to solve their issues and it’s so pleasing to know MPs do care. If I had met my MP on the day, I like to think that he would have done the same.

    The whole day was lovely. Really, super lovely, and I can’t wait to go again!

  2. We had our second meeting after the Choose Youth Rally yesterday. It was at our office in Leeds. We caught up on what we did with our MPs and talked about what were going to do in the future. Me and Poppy are going to find out where our MPs Surgery is (Hillary Benn) and ask him to talk to us Youth Councilors

  3. I really enjoyed the lobby at the time and I think the best part was seeing all the support for young people from a range of different groups. It was good to see others realising that it is not only young people who will feel the brunt of these cuts and we are not alone in feeling neglected by the government.

    I know cuts to the youth sector will disempower a lot of young people and amidst the current social and economic problems it means many are beginning to view their futures with pessimism.

    For this reason it felt good to be able to ask our MPs for support, and my MP, Fabian Hamilton, was very supportive and promised to stand up for the youth.

    Overall it was a great experience, I only hope the MPs will act on their promises and that more people will open their eyes to the true problems cuts to the youth sector will bring.

  4. We’re glad everyone got something out of the experience, after all, it’s as much about that as it is about making others change.

    Thanks for your comments 😀

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