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William Chrystal, 23, Youth Cabinet Member

How long were you in the YC / UKYP, and what was your role?

I was in the youth cabinet for four years, around 13-17 years old, and for the last year I was vice-chair.

How did you find out about the Youth Cabinet?

Through my brother, Duncan, who was already a member.

How do you think the Youth Cabinet affected the Youth Voice in West Sussex?

Personally, there are things that helped me, such as becoming more interested in politics. The youth cabinet helped me to get involved with issues surrounding young people, such as votes for 16 year olds, and gave me a way to express those views with a group of people as interested in them as I was.

What was your favourite piece of work/project in the Youth Cabinet?

We created a film which was nominated for a short film award and we got to go to an awards ceremony in Leicester Square. Having a great interest in film it was a fantastic project which got many young people involved with film and more than anything it was great fun. I always thought the Youth Cabinet struck a great balance between being a serious political body while still remaining an enjoyable experience.

What opportunities did Youth Cabinet open up for you? What were they?

I was involved with multiple other youth groups following my involvement with the youth cabinet including the Youth Opportunity Fund in which we were asked to decide on which youth led activities would receive funding from a government pot of money set aside for that purpose. All the bids we received had to be led by young people so we knew the money was benefiting young people throughout West Sussex. I also got to travel to China on an exchange trip because of my involvement with the Youth Cabinet and more generally the youth service. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about a different culture but within a safe environment surrounded by Young People of similar age to myself.

How did being in the Youth Cabinet help your personal development?

I gained a lot in terms of personal development from my time in the Youth Cabinet as I had many Youth Workers who helped me to understand that my voice mattered and that I could make a difference. I developed many skills that were helpful moving forward into college and university such as confidence and the ability to make friends which are skills I think some people sometimes underappreciate. Developing within the context of the Youth Cabinet also helped me to mature into a young adult who was confident to engage in discussions when I had an opinion rather than letting others do all the talking and allowing my opinions to be missed.

What is your favourite memory of Youth Cabinet?

Being elected Vice-chairperson, I was proud and felt very accepted. I was a major boost in my self-confidence.

What are you up to now?

Working as a manger in a cinema having completed an MA in History last year, I will probably look to complete a PGCE next year and go into teaching in the near future.

Is there anything else you would like to say about Youth Voice in this country, or about the Youth Cabinet?

I think the work that the UK Youth Parliament does is really important in championing many causes for young people. Votes for 16, living wage, mental health provisions are but some of the important causes they pursue. They are also far more representative of Britain than the adult parliament with a much more even number of women, BME and disabled young people. This is important as these groups are being represented and it also highlights how uneven and unrepresentative British politics normally are.

Find out more about the West Sussex Youth Cabinet.

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