Students help to make a mark in Commons

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Two Central Bedfordshire students will be among 300 young people taking part in a debate in the House of Commons next week.

Steven Dawkins, from All Saints Academy, and Ellen Burke, from Stratton Upper School, are Central Bedfordshire’s two members of the UK Youth Parliament.

On Friday, November 13, they will join other 11-18 years olds to tackle five major issues affecting young people today to open Parliament Week, an annual initiative to build greater awareness, understanding and engagement with parliamentary democracy in the UK.

It will be Ellen’s second time at the event and Steven’s first.

The five topics up for discussion are the living wage for all, curriculum for life, mental health, public transport, and tacking racism and religious discrimination.

They were voted for in the largest-ever youth referendum ballot “Make Your Mark” which saw 967,000 young people deciding their priorities from a list of 150 issues. That included 3,926 young people across Central Bedfordshire.

The debate will be chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP and screened on the BBC Parliament channel.

Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Social Care and Housing at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “I want as many young people as possible to be involved in the way our country and local communities are run, and Central Bedfordshire Council has been putting a lot of work into ensuring that young people are engaging with us locally.

“So, I’m really pleased that two of our young people will get the chance to be involved in this fantastic event. It’s great that so many people took part in the ballot as this means they have a real say on the issues that are important to them and the decisions that affect them.”