What happens when you take young people from different areas and organizations and throw in some politicians? Well the result will shock you as it shocked me. At the Liberal Democrats party conference in Bournemouth there was no shortage of young people who were passionate and enthusiastic to make their voices heard by the people who could make a difference.
As part of the Youth Zone event party members and youth charities got together to debate policies for young people. I joined the charity UK Youth and O2 Think Big to discuss Education and Skills with Lord Storey and Lorely Burt who lead for the party on those areas. I had concerns about opportunities and programs to help young people become more confident and teach them life skills that truly matter and the truth is I thought I was the only one. In fact the majority of people I spoke to and heard from had the same views.
I also joined 50 young people for an afternoon of meetings with politicians and discussion on topics we felt strongly about. We discussed mental health at great length and that really hit home for me because I know from experience that mental health has a stigma against it and I was really refreshing to see people talking about it trying to find a solution. I spoke to Norman Lamb MP, A Health Minister in the last government, and asked him if he could give advice to someone struggling with mental health what would he suggest and he told me “Be open to talk to parents, brother, sisters but the GP is a starting point.”
The atmosphere of the whole conference was astounding. I truly was a pleasure to see young people challenge the politicians. It felt hopeful to know that politicians had listened to what young people had to say.
By Connor Joyce, UK Youth Voice – Scotland Representative