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Youth Combined Authority member takes young people's views to Westminster

11/07/2018

A MEMBER of the Greater Manchester Youth Combined Authority (GMYCA) took the views of the city-region’s young people on work experience to Westminster as part of a national inquiry.

Bethanie Mortenson at Westminster

A MEMBER of the Greater Manchester Youth Combined Authority (GMYCA) took the views of the city-region’s young people on work experience to Westminster as part of a national inquiry.

17-year-old Bethanie Mortenson, who is a member of the GMYCA as well as Deputy Member for Youth Parliament in Bury and the current Chair of Bury Youth Cabinet, spoke before the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee at Portcullis House in Westminster last week.

This year the committee is focusing on work experience, which was voted in the top three issues by young people in a recent survey. The inquiry is exploring barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience and what is and isn’t currently available for all young people in the UK.

One of the GMYCA’s recent bodies of work has been developing a Curriculum for Life, which has a 12-month targeted responsibility to look at and develop work experience opportunities for young people.

Two workshops were recently held with members of the Youth Combined Authority on the need to rethink work experience for young people and think outside the box.

Bethanie, from Radcliffe, took the results of these workshops to the committee and represented all members of the GMYCA and young people from across Greater Manchester.

Speaking about the experience, Bethanie said: “The Youth Council is an opportunity to get young people’s opinions heard and make us feel like we are being listened to.

“It was great to have a chance to talk about the YCA and feed our work into the questions we were asked. Lots of different organisations were represented and it was great to give the young people of Greater Manchester a chance to have their views heard.

“At the Youth Combined Authority you get a good range of young people from different backgrounds. It was great to see some of the reactions to our ideas. Overall it was a great experience.”

Among the recommendations Bethanie made to the committee was that it should be compulsory for schools to offer work experience but optional for pupils to take part in it. This would mean everyone has access to work experience but if they cannot take part for any reason they are not required to do so.

As well as Bethanie, the committee heard evidence from Government officials and leading experts to find out more about the barriers into work experience.

Once the inquiry is complete, a report will be prepared for the Prime Minister who will then have 60 days to respond to the findings.

Cllr Rishi Shori, Portfolio lead for Young People and Social Cohesion and Leader of Bury Council, said: “The idea behind the Youth Combined Authority was to give the young people of Greater Manchester a voice and to allow them to improve things for themselves. By speaking to the committee, Bethanie has had the chance to present the views of the thousands of young people from across the city-region at a national level.

“We are all extremely proud of her and the other members of the Youth Combined Authority for the work they are doing to make a genuine difference to the lives of you people in Greater Manchester and now in influencing what is happening around Britain.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham added: “When the GMYCA was established, I pledged to listen to the ideas of young people and work with them to bring them to fruition in Greater Manchester.

“It is great to see that the same thing is happening at a national level and especially that the views of young people from Greater Manchester are being taken into consideration. I look forward to hearing more about the visit and how we can support the need for young people to take part in work experience here in Greater Manchester.”

Notes to Editors                                                                                                                                

The Greater Manchester Youth Combined Authority is the first youth combined authority in the country and met for the first time in February 2018. It aims to give young people in Greater Manchester the opportunity to have their voices heard and influence GMCA policy and decision making. More information can be found here.

The British Youth Council empowers young people aged 25 and under to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives nationally. It supports young people to get involved in their communities and democracy locally, nationally and internationally, making a difference as volunteers, campaigners, decision-makers and leaders.

The Youth Select Committee is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 11 to 18 and include two members of the UK Youth Parliament, two youth councillors, a Young Mayor, and one elected representative from each of the devolved nations and three reserved seats.