YOUTH parliament members from West Sussex put their skills to the ultimate test in a lively House of Commons debate.
Chaired by the speaker of the house, John Bercow, the four teenagers took part in the annual event for UK Parliament Week.
Oliver Faragher (East Arun, Adur and Worthing), Erin Masterson (Horsham and Mid Sussex), Farah Khan (Crawley and East Grinstead) and Harley Collins (Chichester and West Arun), pictured below left to right, helped to debate five issues chosen in a huge ballot by young people across the UK earlier this year.
They were: put an end to knife crime, mental health, equal pay, equal work, tackling homelessness and votes at 16.
Erin said afterwards: “Going to the House of Commons was so surreal. I had seen it all on TV before, so to actually be there, sitting on the green seats was very bizarre.
“The speeches were all amazing and, although I didn’t get to speak myself, I still got so much from the experience. It was extremely inspiring and eye-opening. Now I feel I can do anything I set my mind to.”
All the UK Youth Parliament members involved in the event this month voted to decide which two issues would become their priority campaigns for next year. These were ending knife crime and votes at 16.
In one of the largest youth consultations of its kind in UK history, this year’s Make Your Mark campaign saw 1,106,788 young people take part – with one in five of all 11-18 year olds voting. West Sussex saw a record 21,206 young people vote in the ballot.
Cllr Paul Marshall, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “It is wonderful that young people from this county were at the heart of this debate and represented their peers so well.