Students: It’s your UK Parliament. Get involved!By Sky Yarlett, UK Parliament
Banner photo credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
In this year’s momentous general election, students and young people played a key role, but don’t let that be the end of getting your voice heard.
Parliament, would-be-MPs, students' unions…everyone wanted you to vote, and vote you did. Young people’s turnout was up by 20% on the previous election. But voting isn’t everything and your influence doesn’t stop there.
This September, Parliament hosted its first ever Student Leaders training session. Thirty young people from around the country came to the UK’s home of democracy to find out how to have their say.
The training was designed to help explain the parliamentary process and how to effectively raise issues. Student leaders were also offered a tour of the Parliament, and the chance to meet with a prominent MP.
Student Leaders in Parliament, September 2017
Katharine, from the University of Leeds, explained why it was worthwhile:
'Understanding Parliament helps you to understand how society and the country work so that it does not feel like an untraceable alien entity.
'I learnt so much and gained so much from the day that it is hard to pinpoint the most interesting part of the day. I learnt a lot from the tour guide and it was amazing to see the rich history of Westminster.
'I now understand more about the roles of the select committees and the House of Lords. I now know who I need to contact to raise any concerns that I have about the everyday lives of us, the general public.'
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
But how else can you have your say on what goes on at the heart of our parliamentary democracy?
6 ways you can have your say:
- Be a Student Leader! We want young people to be involved with Parliament. If you want to be one of the students selected to come to Parliament, applications will open in October, apply here.
- Find out who your MP is! Contact your MP about issues you care about. Research them, find out how they've voted and whether or not they've spoken on a particular issue.
- Start an e-petition on Parliament’s website: All you need to start a petition is to be a UK citizen with a valid email address. Once your petition reaches 10,000 signatures you'll receive a response from the Government and the issue could be debated in the House of Commons.
- Contribute to a Select Committee inquiry - Select Committees operate in both the House of Commons and the Lords. They run inquiries into specific policy issues which anyone can contribute evidence to. Keep up to date on live inquiries on our website or sign up to our newsletter.
- Contact an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) - these are like societies at universities and MPs join depending on their interests. There are over 600 APPGs on everything from video games and Beer, to sepsis and vascular disease, so it’s a great way to find out which MPs are interested in the same issues as you.
- Finally, remember the UK Parliament is open to all. You can ask your MP to book a free tour for you, join a paid-for tour at the weekend, come and see Parliament debate an issue that matters to you, or even enter the Central Lobby and ask to see your MP about a constituency issue. Find out more here.
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
Interested in attending the next session?
The next Student Leaders event will be in early January at the Houses of Parliament. It's a full day of training held in Westminster. To find out more and register your interest, click here.
Parliament’s Outreach and Engagement Service also organise free workshops and tours in universities and colleagues. If you’re interested in arranging one you can find out more on our website.