Talking Youth Affairs in Parliament

2 April 2024

  • Blog

UK Youth attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs with two #iwill ambassadors, Finlay and Phoebe, and two of our interns in UK Youth‘s impact team, Emma and Isabella, writes Kate Roberts, UK Youth policy manager.

The APPG is run by the YMCA. It has also historically been run by the British Youth Council, which recently announced its permanent closure. We are grateful to both organisations for creating a space for young people to have their views heard in Parliament.

This session was focused on how to ensure young people’s voices are heard at the next General Election, and included a short speech from Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England.
Emma and Isabella have shared how they found the experience of attending their first APPG at Parliament.

Introducing Emma and Isabella

Emma Trabazo is a student at Boston University, currently on an internship placement with UK Youth’s policy and influencing team, working to support our public affairs work with MPs and policy development. Isabella Molnar was an intern in UK Youth’s research team, where she worked on various different projects, including our Building Connections programme and Just One Question work.

Kate Roberts, UK Youth policy manager, left, with Finlay, Phoebe, Emma and Isabella outside the Houses of Parliament.

APPG on Youth Affairs

The APPG on Youth Affairs is an event held by cross-party MPs, to speak on issues that affect young people.

This APPG in particular was aimed at involving young people in discussions around the General Election, in an effort to include their ideas, experiences, and goals for the next election and government.

Jo Gideon, Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, and Ms de Souza, began by outlining the issues young people currently face as well as the progress that has been made.

Afterwards, there was time for young people to discuss issues they were particularly concerned about, with the majority of time spent debating whether the voting age in England should be changed to 16, which many of the young people strongly advocated for.

During the event, Isabella reflected she observed the confidence with which these young people discussed issues that were close to their hearts, as well as the reciprocal encouragement among the young people.

Emma felt that as an American intern at UK Youth, she had the opportunity to attend alongside two young people we brought and was able to observe issues young people in the UK are advocating for, which has better informed her experience at UK Youth.

She felt it was inspiring to hear these young people speak on issues that mattered most to them.

Youth voice

How did Isabella and Emma feel young people should be engaged with and listened to in the lead up to the next General Election?

Emma said: “Many of the young people complained they lacked proper education in political systems of the UK outside of basic history, leaving them unequipped to be involved in discussions and feeling left behind in politics. Young people need to be better informed so they are prepared to make change and fully participate as constituents.

“Additionally, young people need to be included in more political discussions, and their respective MPs should listen to young voices, as they will age and become the workforce and voting population. Not being of the voting age should not be a barrier to having your voice heard in the country.”

Isabella said: “I believe engaging young people in the next General Election necessitates a multifaceted approach, consisting of educational initiatives in schools and universities, digital engagement via social media, inclusive communication as well as opportunities like the APPG on Youth Affairs event during which young people can actively interact with political candidates and leaders.

“However, besides engaging young people, I also believe it is a bidirectional issue, meaning political candidates and leaders must be willing to listen to young people. I believe events like such enable this opportunity; however, I also believe that there are currently not enough opportunities like this, making young people feel like their voice might not matter as much.”

Finlay, Phoebe, Emma and Isabella at the APPG.


Isabella said her highlight of the event was seeing the confidence young people had speaking up in front of so many other young people as well as MPs and the children’s commissioner. She felt it was incredible to see how much thought was put into not only the problems young people currently face, but also possible solutions.

Emma said: “As an outspoken young person myself, I felt helpless at times like I was unable to make much of a difference being too young to vote and to be taken seriously.

“It was a highlight seeing young people speak articulately about issues within their communities and the need for more inclusion in debates.

“It was interesting to be on the other side of it now that I am of age, to hear people advocating for their own causes, as well as hear what UK-specific problems they want to tackle.

“It was amazing to hear directly from the young people I have aimed to serve throughout this internship.”

Next steps

What would Emma and Isabella like to see next?

Emma said: “While holding space for young people to speak on these issues is immensely helpful, young people were asking questions and calling upon solutions that were unanswered due to lack of time for everyone to speak.

“I would like to see these intelligent questions be answered and for these APPG discussions to move past that committee room.

“I hope those in Parliament listen and implement, and prove that they care about youth opinions and commit to include more young voices in their policies.”

Isabella said: “At a future APPG on Youth Affairs I would like to see a more structured debate at the end where every young person receives an answer to their opinion or question.

“While the event was validating and interesting for young people, I think future events would benefit from giving young people a sense that political leaders will work on developing solutions by more specifically addressing concerns and questions they raised.”

It was a great event, with lots of young people able to attend and share their views. Thank you again to the YMCA and BYC staff who were able to host the event and to Emma and Isabella for their reflections.

About UK Youth

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of more than 8,000 youth organisations and nation partners; UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org 

UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes

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