Two Solihull students have been elected to the UK Youth Parliament. Joshua Murphy, 17, a student at CTC Kingshurst Academy was elected as a Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP) and Alex Birch, 16, a student at Lyndon School was elected as his Deputy.
Elections were held in local schools in February and around 6000 students voted. Joshua and Alex will be campaigning to raise awareness of the top three local issues voted for during the election process; these are cyber bullying, sexting and grooming, and autism.
Joshua and Alex will also be supporting UK Youth Parliament national campaigns to tackle religious and racial discrimination and to improve mental health services for children and young people.
They will work with elected members, Council Officers and other agencies to raise awareness of these issues and are aiming to develop workshops to be run in local schools for pupils, teachers and parents.
They will also be working with other young people and children through Solihull Youth Council and its network to ensure that their campaigns reflect as wide a range of views and ideas as possible.
Joshua and Alex will then take these views and ideas forward to an annual sitting in York in July and a debate in the House of Commons later in the year.
Joshua, who is autistic himself, said ‘I believe that it is really important to increase the awareness of the difficulties that people with autism face. Those with autism are at increased risk of things like cyber bullying and child sexual exploitation (CSE) due to their lack of understanding’.
Alex commented that ‘I believe that mental health is an important issue to young people and needs to be better addressed. I believe we can improve on the education system to increase the understanding of young people regarding mental health so they can help themselves and support others’.
To find out more about the UK Youth Parliament, go to: http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/.