HYP: Tomorrow’s Hackney, decided today
The big talking point at the moment is who will win the election. No, not Romney or Obama, the big question in Hackney is who will win the Hackney Youth Parliament elections.
The Hackney Youth Parliament (HYP) programme is geared towards achieving a better and more meaningful involvement of young people in Hackney’s local government. Taking place every two years, with candidates that represent, four neighbourhoods the election winners will be announced this Wednesday 17th October 2012 at Hackney Town Hall.
The programme aims to help develop and equip young people into becoming the councillors, politicians and agents of change of the future. The Hackney Youth Parliament elections act as a platform that allows the 37 candidates to bring their ideas and aspirations for the community of Hackney to life, before both peers and esteemed panellists including Hackney Mayor Jules Piper and OBV’s Simon Woolley.
The event is the culmination of a period of extensive hard work and manifesto preparation undertaken by a vast number of young people across Hackney. Some of the issues facing the community as expressed by the HYP candidates include a lack of youth clubs, a lack of creative and educational programmes and an absence of any real working relationship between the younger generation and key groups within the community such as the Hackney Council and the Police. Instilling ambition and determination in their fellow youths appears to be a recurrent theme in the manifestos of all the candidates. Kennedy Nwosu a candidate for Homerton, said, it is important,
“ to make sure their voices are being heard in a community where youths are increasingly feeling powerless.”
The event is to pay tribute to the passion and commitment that young people of Hackney have demonstrated towards decision-making and civic responsibility, which has often been portrayed in society as a lost characteristic of the youths of today. The backdrop of the event is the wider issue of political involvement, particularly with respect to BME communities, where to some extent disillusionment with the political discourse still remains. Young people in Britain are generally less likely to participate in voting that their elder counterparts. According to an Ipsos MORI report of 2010 the turnout of eligible 18 to 24 year olds in 2010 was 44%, though an increase from the 37% of 2005, it still remains well below the national average, showing a vast number of eligible young people are simply deciding not to vote. BME communities are disproportionately affected by the low levels of turnout among young people, with turnout of BME young people, according to an Ipsos MORI report of 2001, falling to 39%.
The HYP Elections 2012 aims also to further promote young people’s involvement in democracy on a local, national and even global level. The legacy of the previous cohort of HYP members can be seen in the new ‘Young Hackney’ centres that have been developed, changes in ‘stop and search’ policy as well as initiatives that cater to young people in the Community who are carers. Each of the elected Youth Parliament member stated of their 2010-2012 term in office,
“We’ve thrived in this role and done our best to be involved in youth politics …it is important that we have a say in the decisions that affect our lives.”
Those elected this Wednesday, are to form the 28 members of the HYP, which is to be comprised of representatives from each of the four area youth forums, the Young People’s Disability Forum and LGBT Forum. Responsibilities for those eventually elected include attending meetings with the Hackney Council, actively campaigning for manifesto proposals and ultimately "[becoming] what they seek" in the words of Emanuel Alonge, a Homerton candidate for the HYP.
It is programmes such as the HYP programme that start at an early age to re-connect young people of today to the political system and instil an awareness of just what impact they can have, by making their voice and their votes count. This key message is so aptly conveyed by Vera Boateng, a North-East candidate who says,
"Make your vote count, get your voice heard and together we’ll make the community what we want it to be.”
Story Update - For a full list of the election winners, please click here Hackney Youth Parliament Election Results 2012.
Picture caption: Delegates at the Hackney Youth Conference which members of HYP helped to organise