Get your MP to stand up for young people

The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge challenges for young people. Schools have been closed and exams cancelled. Young people have lost their jobs. Young carers are working hard to look after their families, without support. Young people are struggling with their mental health. Lots of young people are feeling anxious, and don’t know what the future holds.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the Prime Minister and his ministers have had daily press briefings. While these have addressed issues such as protective equipment for NHS staff, and economic support for businesses – as just two examples – so far no briefings have spoken directly to children and young people, or taken their questions. As the press briefings are now going to stop being daily, it may be even less likely that a youth press briefing will be held.

Other countries are leading the way on this. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, has held more than one event taking questions from young people. New Zealand and Norway have done the same. Just this week, the Welsh Education Minister received questions from the children of Wales.

Nearly two months ago, 90 leaders and 150 youth representatives wrote to the Prime Minister to ask for a youth press conference, but he has not yet committed to holding one. That’s why we are asking young people across the country to write to your MP. Your MP can put their voice behind the call by asking the Prime Minister to take questions from young people.

It’s time our Prime Minister listened to young people’s voices, answered the questions they have about the future of our country, and recognised their potential in taking action to support the Covid-19 recovery. 

We are going to be renewing our calls for a youth press conference.

How can you take part? Starting Thursday 2nd July

Got 3 minutes? Send a tweet to the Prime Minister

If you are a Twitter user, tweet the Prime Minister with the question you would ask if you had the chance. You can get some inspiration from these questions collated by #iwill, or these shared by Unicef UK. 

Young people deserve to be heard – it’s time the Prime Minister held a press conference with young people to answer our questions. 

If I could ask @10DowningStreet a question, I would ask: XXXXX

#PowerOfYouth 

Got 5 minutes? Tweet to your MP

The first thing that you can do, if you are a Twitter user, is to send a tweet to your MP. You can also download a graphic here which you can attach to your tweet. You can find out your MP’s Twitter handle super quickly through tweetyourmp.com.

Draft tweet (feel free to make it your own!)

Covid-19 has put young people’s futures at risk. @MPHANDLE will you ask @10DowningStreet to hold a press conference for young people? Read this open letter from 90 orgs & 150 youth representatives #PowerOfYouth https://www.iwill.org.uk/open-letter-to-uk-govt

Tweets are a very quick way to engage with your MP, but they may not always reply or engage with you. One idea to increase attention to your tweet is to tag organisations in your area (youth groups, schools, or charities) into the graphic, or to tag in other influential local people.

Got 20 mins? Send a letter or email

Download our template letter to send to your MP. You can either send it in the post or via email – either one works just as well. You can look up your MP’s contact details here. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can only write to your own MP, which is why you should always put your address in your letter. However, if you are a university student, you can write to MPs in both your home and university constituency.

Dear [MP Name],

Children and young people are at the forefront of the challenges created by COVID-19. Our futures are uncertain – with inequalities rising, our education disrupted and employment prospects diminished. 

Young people have questions about how it plans to address these challenges – and we deserve to have them answered […]

Download the template MP letter

Got a bit more time? Host an listening event with your MP.

Young people’s voices need to be heard at a local level, not just in Westminster. You should have the opportunity to raise the issues which matter to you, and to ask leaders about how you can work together to address the challenges you face, during the pandemic and in the future.

We’ve worked with creative youth organisation Beatfreeks to develop a guide to holding digital listening events between young people and organisations and leaders, and are calling on people to join the national conversation. Consider getting together with your local Youth Council, an organisation you volunteer for, or with your school to host a listening event and invite your local MP. You could also consider inviting other leading local figures, such as local councillors or business leaders.

Check out youth engagement events which have already taken place with Sir Keir Starmer and Andy Burnham.

Download the listening event guide