Thousands of young people have their say in Wigan and Leigh

Youth Parliament Members

Over 17,000 11-17 year olds from Wigan and Leigh have had their say in a national ballot designed to determine what the biggest concerns are for young people.

The Make Your Mark ballot is coordinated nationally by the UK Youth Parliament and facilitated locally by Wigan Council and young people from Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet.

17,191 young people in Wigan and Leigh voted, placing Wigan Borough 10th across the UK for votes generated (12th based on youth population) and equating to a 57% turnout of young people in the borough.

Anthony Pasquile, 15, from Leigh, is a member of Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet. He says,

‘Promoting Make Your Mark in schools was hard work. It wasn’t easy to stand in front of 800 students in a full school assembly and ask people to vote. So the results feel like a big accomplishment.’

The top three issues voted for in Wigan and Leigh, were:

  • Mental health. Services should be improved with young people’s help.
  • Knife crime. The Government need to do more to put an end to knife crime.
  • Equal pay for equal work. Young people should be paid the same amount as adults if they are doing the same job.

On 9th November, in celebration of UK Parliament Week, UK Youth Parliament member for Wigan and Leigh, William Powell, 14, from Orrell and Deputy Member Samuel Miller, 15, from Ashton, will go to the House of Commons for the UK Youth Parliament’s annual sitting. Along with other Youth Parliament members from across the UK, they will debate and vote for the issues that the UK Youth Parliament should campaign on nationally over the next year.

On Friday 16th November, young people from high schools across the borough have been invited to discuss mental health as part of a debate event to mark UK Parliament Week locally.

William says,

‘I think mental health came out as the issue with the most votes because it’s something everyone can relate to. Young people from Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet chose mental health as the subject for the debate after we saw the results from the Make Your Mark ballot. Yvonne Fovargue, MP, and other decision makers will attend to listen to the young people’s ideas.’

A group of professional representatives from organisations including North West Boroughs Healthcare, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Wigan Borough CCG, Wigan Council, local schools, GP’s and voluntary groups have recently come together to form the Future in Mind group. The group’s aim is to improve young people’s mental health support across the borough.

Representatives from the group will attend the young people’s debate on 16th November.

Chair of Future in Mind, GP Dr. Jayne Davies, says,

‘It’s not a surprise to us that so many young people have voted for mental health as the issue they’re most concerned about. We understand how important it is and are keen to offer the best services and support possible for young people in Wigan Borough. We want to improve services in partnership with young people to make sure that the services we develop are the ones that will make the most difference to them.’

Councillor Jenny Bullen, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People’s Services, says,

‘It’s fantastic that so many local young people took the trouble to vote in this ballot. I’d also like to say thank you to all of the local high schools who worked in partnership with us to support this work. We’re committed to listening to our young people and I’m looking forward to working with them to further improve our mental health services and the support available for them.’