Sunderland’s Youth Parliament is encouraging teenagers and other young people across Wearside to have their say on the issues that matter to them.
The Make Your Mark vote, which runs until October 6, is the largest consultation of young people in the country and is open to anyone aged between 11 and 18.
Last year saw 8,002 young people (30% of those eligible) vote in Sunderland and almost 980,000 nationally take to the polls to have their say on the topics that matter most to them.
This year Sunderland Youth Parliament (SYP) are aiming to get 10,000 of their peers voting.
The top five issues in the ballot box will then be debated by the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons this November, an event which representatives from SYP will attend.
Thomas Crawford, 18, from Hastings Hill and chairman of SYP, said: “Sunderland’s young people need to be heard, and that’s why it’s essential that the UK’s largest youth consultation is promoted.
“Just shy of one million young people voted nationwide last year, the youth voice of Wearside needs to be part of that and heard on a local and national level.”
Rachel Krajovska, 17, from Grangetown, added: “This is such an important time for young people to voice their views and really express their thoughts through the elections.”
SYP, a group of 22 young people, aged 11 to 18, works to give a voice to children and teenagers in Sunderland.
The group regularly meets with staff from Together for Children as well as Sunderland’s councillors and MPs.
Sue Carty, director of quality and performance at Together for Children, said: “Through Make Your Mark all young people in the city can have a say on what matters to them.
“For many of them, this might be the first time they have taken up the opportunity to engage with the world of politics and hopefully this will spark an interest that lasts a lifetime.”
Councillor Louise Farthing, portfolio holder for children’s services at the city council, added: “It is so important for our future that today’s younger generation have a political voice and feel free to express themselves on the issues that matter most to them.”
This year’s Make Your Mark vote is the ninth consecutive year that young people have been invited into the chamber, to debate issues voted on in the national ballot held in schools, youth organisations and colleges across the county.
Voting can be done online at www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark/local-authority/ and schools across the city will also shortly be receiving ballot papers.