Youth Parliament and Senedd hold joint session to strengthen relationship

(Title Image: Talking Hands CYP)

As part of events to mark devolution’s 20th anniversary, there was a special joint sitting of the Senedd and Welsh Youth Parliament earlier this afternoon.

The Motion

The Senedd:

  • Note the Welsh Youth Parliament’s work during its first term will focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing; life skills in the curriculum; littering and plastic waste.
  • Confirms the Senedd’s commitment to supporting the work undertaken by MWYPs to engage young people.
  • Agrees on a joint declaration outlining the Senedd’s and Youth Parliament‘s commitment to work together on behalf of the young people of Wales.

A relationship between two parliaments

Maisy Evans MWYP (Torfaen) opened by saying it was “vital” for there to be a relationship between the two parliaments and joint work on the three issues identified as important by MWYPs.

Jonathon Dawes MWYP (Clwyd West) has advocated life skills in the curriculum and in May a survey of 11-25-year-olds was launched to gather young people’s views on what they would like to see in the new curriculum – due to be debated at the next Youth Parliament plenary session in October. The life skills brought up most often were CPR and first aid.

“As the majority of us today will know, mental health problems affect one in 10 young people. They include anger, depression, loneliness, panic attacks, stress, anxiety and conduct disaster, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. But in order to reduce this number and help every single young person we all need to work together.”
– Sandy Ibrahim MWYP (Partner Member)

Anwen Rodaway MWYP (Partner Member) highlighted the work being done by members in schools, where they’ve helped organise litter picks or recycling schemes. She was encouraged by the recent declaration of a climate emergency but as highlighted in a recent committee report, it was also important to address plastic that you can’t see, like microplastics.

“Although we’re here today to celebrate, we must remember that there are 200,000 children in Wales living in poverty, hundreds have to wait months for mental health support, and the world around us is being destroyed by climate change.”
– Ifan Jones MWYP (Ynys Môn)

Alys Hall MWYP (Rhondda) praised the co-operation that already existed between AMs and MWYPs on local and youth issues – picking out period poverty as one such issue. Angel Ezeadum MWYP (Partner Member) said technology was enabling them to reach a wide audience very quickly, while Cai Phillips MWYP (Carms. W. & S. Pembs.) said the joint declaration would give MWYPs “certainty and confidence” going forward.

Strengthening democracy

The First Minister said Wales was leading the way in children’s rights and this joint session was an example of how to strengthen democracy. Children and young people have unique viewpoints on major issues facing Wales. He expressed support for further discussion on all three of the issues picked by MWYPs, using extending voting rights to 16 and 17-year olds as an example of a life skill in itself.

“On this side of the Chamber, we are eager to see more work done to encourage stronger preventative measures and early intervention (on mental health). For example, we want to see schools the length and breadth of Wales taking steps to develop mindfulness awareness in their school, and we want employers to look at how their businesses can provide greater support to those living and working with mental health conditions.”
– Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.)

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) said the development of the youth parliament has been a source of pride and young people can – and probably will – lead the way on tackling issues such as plastic waste and changing attitudes towards mental health. Mark Reckless AM (BXP, South Wales East) was also pleased the Youth Parliament was contributing to an atmosphere where young people can get mental health support more easily.

“I know I speak for all of us when I say that we are looking forward with great excitement and hope to watch your progress and seeing the outcomes of your hard work. But it is my firm belief that we shouldn’t only sit on the sidelines and watch your progress. Our committee has already benefited greatly from engaging with the Youth Parliament on proposals to remove the defence of reasonable punishment.”
– Chair of the Children & Education Committee, Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen)

The motion was passed unanimously.

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