The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’s Youth Ambassadors have written to political party leaders calling on them to ensure that young people “have a voice” on the issues that affect them at the next general election.
In the letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, the Youth Ambassadors – a panel of Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants and Award holders aged 16-24, from all over the UK – expand on the priorities identified by young people in the DofE’s Youth Manifesto.
They write: “The last few years have been challenging for everyone. But let’s be clear – for a growing number of young people in the UK, it’s more difficult than ever to find opportunities to fulfil their potential and succeed.
“The next election can help to change this. It provides a real opportunity to be ambitious for all young people in the UK, and we’re calling on you to listen to young people as you plan your manifestos. […] Please listen to us and work with us on the issues that matter most.
“Your manifestos can start the groundwork to give young people skills for life and employment, agency in the politics that shape our future, and real action on the environment.”
They urge party leaders to:
- Make sure all young people have access to learning opportunities outside the classroom, giving them the skills, self-belief and motivation to prepare them for the move from education to work – and properly invest in schools and colleges to support this and deliver the skills employers need for today.
- Ensure young people’s voices are heard and their views valued on decisions impacting them, including by introducing a new ‘future generations’ law requiring governments to take into account the impact of proposed laws on future generations.
- Take urgent action to meet climate goals and achieve net zero by 2050, including ending single-use plastics, finding sustainable solutions to reduce plastic waste, and extending recycling systems, including compost bins for all companies, schools and households
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Youth Ambassadors also suggest a youth summit to discuss these issues and give substance to their voice.
Youth Ambassadors Evangeline, Matty and James will hand the letter in to 10 Downing Street today. They will also deliver the letter to Anneliese Dodds MP, Chair of the Labour Party, during a meeting and discussion in Parliament.
While in Westminster, the Youth Ambassadors will also meet with Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan MP, Liberal Democrat defence spokesperson and DofE Award holder Richard Foord MP, and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Chair of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Board of Trustees.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’s Youth Manifesto, which gathered views from more than 2,000 young people, found that three-quarters (75%) of 14-24-year-olds feel politicians rarely listen to the views of young people, if at all – and more than two thirds (68%) believe politicians make decisions with little or no consideration of the impact they might have on future generations.
DofE Youth Ambassador Evangeline Roe, 18, from Bournville, said: “The young people of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. Our voices need to be heard on the issues that will impact us, and the whole of the UK, for the rest of our lives.”
Ruth Marvel, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said:
”Today’s young people are living in uncertain and challenging times. Despite grappling with the effects of the pandemic on their education, work prospects and mental health, along with a major cost-of-living crisis, they’re full of compassion, hope and huge promise. But they don’t feel listened to by the people whose decisions will determine their futures.
“Young people deserve to be heard. The next election is an opportunity for our party leaders to be ambitious, really listen to young people and show they’re serious about supporting them – we hope they’ll take that chance.”
Shaping our future
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a non-competitive personal challenge, open to all young people aged 14-24, which helps young people discover new talents and passions, gain vital skills they can’t always learn in classrooms, and grow in resilience and self-belief. It is run in schools, colleges, community and voluntary organisations, hospitals, prisons and more.
The DofE charity is working to reach a million young people by 2026 – with a focus on supporting those who face barriers to taking part, including young people from marginalised communities, those facing financial hardship, and those who need specialist support – such as young offenders and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’s Youth Ambassadors are a group of participants and Award holders, recruited annually, who advocate for young people inside and outside the charity, ensure youth voices are heard to make positive, lasting change, and help shape the direction of the DofE by sharing their expertise on key issues impacting young people.
Read the letter