Participation Parliament Networking Conference

You Press had the pleasure of taking part in the Participation Partnership Network Conference on Friday, January 20th. The atmosphere was exhilarating and it was truly an invaluable experience to work alongside other organisations who share our mission of helping to empower the youth through various methodologies.

 The theme of the day could be summed up in one word: potential. You Press had the opportunity to engage in exciting networking and explore the potential for growth and production of high-quality events for our social enterprise. We worked collaboratively with these other organisations to explore avenues to further the potential of the youth and the impact they can make when their voices are empowered and heard. 

To start the day, we played a rousing game of Jenga, but with an exciting twist: some of the blocks had questions written on them to guide intriguing conversations. We got to collaborate with representatives from Shoutout UK, The Electoral Commission, and The Girls Brigade to analyze the disconnect between the youth and parliament and how to best bridge the gap. Parliament is very Westminster-centric, which can be less accessible due to geographical distance and political apathy. After discussing and analyzing the disconnect between the youth and parliament, we concluded that education and storytelling are the key factors to bridge the gap.

The afternoon consisted of a lovely panel of representatives from parliament and a question-and-answer session. We were able to ask about their accomplishments in parliament and their current aspirations. Sarah Davis, the Clerk Assistant and Managing Director of the Chamber and Participation Team, emphasized the importance of striving for inclusion among diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. She expressed pride in the advancements made in the areas of female inclusion and pay disparities. 

Further, The head of the House of Commons petition committee, Emma McIntosh, emphasized the significance of youth participation in signing petitions and interacting with the impacted parties. Emma noted a keen example of the power of storytelling: There was a petition for 4-day school weeks circulating in the community, which led to some in the media referring to the youth as “lazy.” Emma observed that several of the youth representatives she spoke with were struggling greatly with their mental health and wished to spend more time at home with their families. This discussion prompted a debate in the legislature about the difficulties with mental health in the classroom. Emma claimed to be astounded by the youth and wants to give them more chances to witness their direct influence to continue to support and strengthen their voices. 

It was also fascinating to observe the connections between our activity and that of the parliament and these other institutions. You Press adheres to a similar view of storytelling, especially as we move forward with our brand-new initiative “Untold Stories.” You Press strives to offer young people the self-assurance to share their stories and truths through programmes like this one and to further advance the notion that the best way to close this gap, promote education and improve interpersonal communication is through storytelling.