Leading the way in youth engagement – Assembly outlines its success to UK and Irish parliamentarians

Published 30/11/2016   |   Last Updated 30/11/2016

​A group of leading parliamentarians from all of the UK’s legislatures and Ireland have heard how the National Assembly for Wales is leading the way in youth engagement.

The Assembly’s Deputy Presiding Officer, Ann Jones AM, delivered a keynote presentation to the British and Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) plenary meeting (29 November 2016).

BIPA, which brings together politicians from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the legislatures of Guernsey and Jersey, and the Irish and Westminster Parliaments, was meeting in Cardiff.

“Since the Assembly’s establishment in 1999, there have been landmark pieces of legislation and decisions that have placed Wales as a world leader in promoting the place of children and young people in our nation,” the Deputy Presiding Officer told delegates.

“We are proud to have created a Youth Engagement Charter, consulted with more than 10,000 young people about their thoughts on lowering the voting age, and involved more than 10,000 young people directly in committee business.

“The Presiding Officer recently announced the Assembly Commission’s intention to create a Youth Parliament which we believe will help us reach a wider audience to ensure that young people get their voices heard on issues which matter to them.”

Some of the key achievements outlined by the Deputy Presiding Officer included:

  • More than 3,000 young people took part in the ‘Your Say, Your Way’ consultation in 2014. Young people told the Assembly that they wanted to increase their understanding of the Assembly’s work and how it is relevant to their lives. They also wanted to have their opinions on the issues that matter to them to be considered and valued by Assembly Members.
  • As a result of that consultation, on 16 July 2014, the Presiding Officer of the Fourth Assembly and four party leaders launched the Assembly’s Children and Young People’s Charter which set out the Assembly’s commitment to engaging with as many young people in Wales as possible.
  • We surveyed more than 10,000 young people in 2015 about lowering the voting age. 53 per cent were in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 with 58 per cent saying they would vote if there was an election tomorrow.
  • Since then, the Assembly has established a youth work programme that has engaged more than 200 youth groups and a wide range of views in the Assembly's work, including those who are often without a voice (looked-after children, disabled children and young carers).
  • In addition, upwards of 20,000 young people visit Siambr Hywel - the Assembly's dedicated resource for young people - or meet Assembly Members and our officers on an annual basis.