The River’s Shaun Parkes and Twilight’s Judi Shekoni Bite The Ballot

This is a little different to our usual entertainment news, but Bite The Ballot is supported by some great celebrities including Judi Shekoni (Twilight) and Shaun Parkes (The River) and are making waves with young people in the UK.

Judi Shekoni on ‘Bite The Ballot’ and supporting young people

Shaun Parkes on young people and making choices

Bite The Ballot help bridge the gap between young people and politics as young people are given a chance to contribute their experiences and fresh ideas for improvements, and for the first time feel the reality of the PM’s statement  “we are in this together”.

On Monday, 17 January 2012, the Bite the Ballot team organised it’s first debate in the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff, bringing together a group of young people from Wales and politicians from all major parties over the discussion on the hot topics of youth unemployment, devolution and political education. Experiences of our young people shocked politicians and provoked action especially when it came to political education, or rather the lack of it, for many of our young people here in the UK.

Inspired by the story of one 17 year-old who new nothing about politics from the age of 11- 16 and could not even chose politics at her school, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats committed to take direct actions by speaking directly to the Education Minister “to bring this topic to the Assemblies attention with the recommendation that we ensure all young people understand how their country and the UK is run”.

The campaign has gained support from other major political parties represented on the panel, which included: Leanne Wood AM (Plaid Cymru), Jenny Rathbone AM (Labour) as well as Councillor Craig Williams (Conservative).

On Tuesday, 19 January, Bite the Ballot collaborated with the SHM foundation, the Electoral Reform Society and the Electoral Commission to hold a round table discussion on the affects of the Government’s proposed plans to move to Individual Voter Registration. At the event, young people had their say and made suggestions as to how we ensure their generation do not fall off the register. Some of the suggestions included sending out information about electoral registrations with National Insurance cards or digitalizing electoral registration to make it more accessible for young people. A major point raised and supported by all the young people present was looking at installing the value of their vote, which will then make them want to register to be an active part of society. Katie Ghose, the CEO of the Electoral Reform Society said  “It was great to see politicians sit up and listen as young people provided a fresh perspective on some of the big political issues of the day.”

The event showed how important it is to bring democracy and young people’s organisations together. Young people’s ideas, excitement and ambition can help to reignite these important debates for the rest of us.”

The same day, the Westminster Committee Corridor saw Business Secretary Vince Cable attend the Youth Unemployment Consultation organised by Bite the Ballot. This event brought together government representatives from Department of Education, Department for Work and Pensions as well as Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Key organisations from private and public sectors also attended, including Job Centre Plus, Catch21, Youth Parliament, HYPE, Spirit of London, The Beans Group as well as many young people that come up with their recommendations and experiences on unemployment. Working-group established by Bite the Ballot is now gathering the evidence given on the consultation meeting and will present it to the Government departments to consider. Key points raised by organisations and the young people led back to education and that there is not enough done to prepare young people for work and ensuring aspirations are not lost throughout secondary education.

North London Job Centre Plus Operations Manager Hazel Renwick said “It was a great opportunity to share views and ideas, very encouraging to see so many organisations and individuals come together with a common goal in mind”.

Working together with the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Bite the Ballot have gained direct access to Nick Clegg who will take part in an exclusive interview for the campaign explaining the ‘Youth Contract’ and how it directly affects young people.

The theme of the initiatives undertaken by the Bite the Ballot movement were action-driven and focused on bringing together like-minded organisations together with young people and work on bringing real change for the younger generation.

Bite the Ballot’s Managing Director Michael Sani was delighted by the events that took place this week and added  “In 19 months Bite the Ballot has grown from a classroom in Dartford to Number 10 and has now gained official government support with a reception in 10 Downing Street later this year. A chance for the efforts of our growing team to be recognised and celebrated”.

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