The Make your Mark reception was hosted inside the Speaker of the House of Common’s private residence at the Houses of Parliament. The event was hosted by John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, alongside Rob Wilson MP, Minster for Civil Society, to celebrate the success of the Make your Mark ballot, exceptional speakers from the debate at the House of Commons in October, and to an ecstasy of excitement and relief: announce the continuation of funding to the UK Youth Parliament until the end of this government in 2020.
Myself, Claire Denby and Peter Evans, West Sussex Cabinet member for Children & Start of Life met at Portcullis House, which is the large pillared building just opposite the Commons. It houses an array of committee rooms for MPs to meet, and also contains hundreds of Civil Servants working around the clock, supporting their MPs and thus their correlating departments. From here, we were lead to the Speaker’s residence, via an underground tunnel from Portcullis.
The Speaker’s Residence was covered in riches all over, gifts received from foreign dignitaries- everything from a US congress tie clip, to gold from Ghana. The gold crested walls were lined with a plethora of magnificent paintings, dating back to the early middle ages, through the centuries to a portrait of Bercow himself.
Of course, there were many other youth representatives, young mayors, councillors and MPs, of whom I all spoke with and discussed instances of all our work, and naturally, the new campaign: Don’t Hate, Educate. Also in attendance were multiple MPs, representing parties across the House, indeed, it was a truly fantastic insight to speak with some of them, and in particular Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse, who spoke very candidly about his party’s new leadership and its future direction.
After this while of networking and socialising, John Bercow joined us, flanked by Rob Wilson: Bercow gave a very eloquent speech, as usual, congratulating the UK Youth Parliament and praising the MYM Ballot, before looking forward to the potential success of the Don’t Hate, Educate campaign. Wilson, gave a speech too, though within a similar lexical field which was somewhat overshadowed by the most wonderful, and exclusive announcement, that the UK Youth Parliament would receive funding until the end of this Parliament, which we were, and are all eternally grateful for. Preceding this they had both announced the winner of speaking awards to debaters of the Commons debate in October, and after, naming each Local Authority and the place they came in with regard to quantity of votes attained in the MYM ballot. West Sussex had come a spectacular fourth in the whole of the UK, increasing our vote by around ten fold.
Proceeding this, there was an opportunity to chat with John Bercow, and indeed, I spoke with him for five minutes about the UK Youth Parliament and our work, before grabbing a photo with him. By all accounts, a very gracious, understanding and knowledgeable man. Surely the best stakeholder and champion UKYP could ask for.
Overall the event was a brilliant celebration of the UK Youth Parliament’s excellent progression and achievements of 2015, whilst paying us at West Sussex a great testament for our amazing MYM success!
Written by MYP Sebastian Maxted