Oldham had the highest number of young people that took part in last year’s ‘Make Your Mark’ consultation.
Each year, the United Kingdom Youth Parliament (UKYP), managed by the British Youth Council (BYC), holds a UK-wide ballot, ‘Make Your Mark’, where young people aged 11–18 can vote on what they feel is important in their lives and what they think Members of the Youth Parliament should campaign on for the year ahead.
Last year, over 8,600 young people from across Oldham took part, representing 34.3% turnout, the highest turnout anywhere in the UK and 5% higher than the closest rival.
The ballot was split into National and local issues, in Oldham, the top two national issues were free university and mental health while the top two local issues were tackling domestic violence and homelessness.
The UK Youth Parliament will be campaigning on the top two issues nationally – free university and mental health – together with the two environmental issues – climate emergency and stopping plastic pollution – which also made up a large proportion of the votes.
Councillor Eddie Moores, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said “The annual ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot is the UK’s biggest youth consultation, it allows young people from across the country to vote on issues that are important to them.
“Unfortunately, roll out of the ballot this year was a bit more challenging due to Covid19, but I’m pleased to say that Oldham’s Youth Council, their support workers, our schools and most importantly our young people accepted the challenge.
“The ballot took place electronically in November 2020, and I’m really pleased to share that Oldham had the highest percentage voter turnout in the UK.
“This is a real achievement and I believe an indication of how well youth voice is embedded and valued across our town. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in organising the consultation for their hard work and commitment to our young people.”
Hamra Hanif-Ali, Chair of Oldham Youth Council, added “We’re so pleased to be able to get the views of so many young people across Oldham. To be the best in the UK also shows how much Oldham schools value youth voice and do all they can to make sure their students are represented.”
Heather Price, Member of Youth Parliament for Oldham, said “I’d like to thank Oldham Youth Council, all the schools and Oldham Youth Service for getting involved. In doing everything they could despite the restrictions, young people from our small Northern town gained 5% of all votes cast in Make Your Mark. This will have a massive impact on what decision makers do, not only locally but nationally too.”
Sarah Nazir, Member of Youth Parliament for Oldham, said “Oldham’s young people are a credit to themselves and Oldham. Having the highest turnout in the country is irrefutable proof of that. As an MYP, I can’t wait to deliver on our priorities and bring them to Youth Parliament.”
Oldham Youth Council have already begun the process of sharing the findings which have been well received by Oldham Councillors and Council Officers who will use the report to inform the work of the council.