Scouting out Young People’s Views

James Ferguson, 19  from Wetheral has just been selected to be part of the International Consultation Team of the British Youth Council. Together with 6 UK Young Ambassadors he will collect the opinion of young people in the UK, which will then be transferred directly to the European Union.

This is part of a consultation of young people from all across Europe and the results of will feed into two European Youth Conferences - one in Denmark (March 2012) and one in Cyprus (September 2012). At these events UK Young Ambassadors will join young people from Europe to discuss the results and present recommendations to senior policy makers and decision-makers.

James said: “It may sound clichéd but the reality is that young people are our future, myself included. In this ever increasing globalised world it is important that young peoples opinions are not left behind, or forgotten about. Which is why I would like to offer my skills and services to the UKYA Consultation Team.”

James is currently a member of Scout Network (the senior youth section for 18 to 25 year olds). His drive to speak up for young people and interest in politics started as a member of Ayers Explorer Scout Unit. He told us, “Over the years Scouting has taught me that young people enjoy having a voice and being listened to; the Scout Association is striving to be a Youth Led Movement.

"This year I helped to facilitate at both the Labour and Conservative Party ‘Scouts Speak Up’ events. Young people were given the opportunity to question Politicians and voice their concerns on topics that matter to them. My roll was to steer the discussion and make sure everyone got his or her opinion across. Some times it was frustrating to hear politicians answers, yet other times it could be very encouraging. I believe that in order for young people in the UK to be heard, their voice must travel far and wide in Europe, especially in economically uncertain times such a these. A bottom up approach to decision making is always far more desirable in my opinion and if decision makers in the likes of the EU are made aware of our concerns and acted on them with the principle of subsidiary, then progress can surely be made. A future where young people from across the continent are taken seriously is something I would strive to achieve.”

Being part of the Consultation Team will put James right in the middle of the action. He’ll be part of a team from across the UK that has the opportunity to understand more about what young people think matters in their lives and in their communities, and to make sure their voice can influence decisions at a European level.

James is currently studying Politics with International Relations at Lancaster University and hopes that the experience of representing young people at a European level will support his learning experience.

James will gathering the opinions of as many young people as possible in the lead up to each conference and sharing it with the team. These will be gathered from his existing Scouting and University contacts, and the new Carlisle Youth Council, via Ayers Explorer Scout member Alex Bie. If any other young people would like to be involved in the consultation they should e-mail James at [email protected].