FOURTEEN young people from across the borough are campaigning to become one of Wirral’s two members of the UK Youth Parliament.
The teenagers are canvassing on a galaxy of issues ranging from employment and training to combating inequality, mental health issues, better transport links and keeping the streets free from litter.
Members of the parliament stand for a year and get the chance to work with MPs, decision-makers and youth groups to highlight issues that matter to them and their peers.
The public-spirited youngsters have set out their manifestos on a web site and will be hoping to attract enough votes between now and next Tuesday to win them a seat.
Councillor Tony Smith, cabinet member for children and families, said: "The manifestos that our candidates have prepared are varied, and clearly reflect a wide range of issues that are important to young people in Wirral today.
"Being a politician is about balancing your own opinions with the views of your constituents, and this will give candidates who clearly demonstrate how motivated and enthusiastic they are the opportunity to develop a range of vital skills they will need in life, such as negotiating and compromising."
Officers from Wirral Council’s youth service and local teachers support young people who want to stand as candidates for the UKYP with advice on preparing your candidacy, writing a manifesto and debating skills.
In 2015 the national Youth Parliament discussed the five most popular topics, with more than 875,000 young people voting on issues like the Living Wage, mental health, reducing the voting age to 16 and bringing back exam re-sits.
Voting will close on Tuesday, February 23.
Who are the candidates?
• Olivier Darnell wants a greater focus on educating young people about politics: 'Political education doesn't just come down to who our current Prime Minister is or which party you should support. It's about awareness of what is happening within the country and how it may affect our everyday lives.’
• Isabella Denn-White wants more employment and training opportunities: ‘There are 900 16-18 year-olds on the Wirral who are not in further education or apprenticeships; young people are not being given the essential opportunities for adult life.’
• Emma Harris is concerned about local mental health provision: ‘I would like to raise awareness and try to create more support for young people suffering with mental health issues in our area. I want to try and make this difficult topic more approachable for young people.’
• Ellie Harrison thinks that not enough young people are taking science, technology, engineering and mathematics: ‘We are lucky to have some of the most innovative businesses in this region (i.e. Unilever). Are we offering opportunities early enough between talented pupils and local businesses to improve their job prospects?’
• Tom Laing is an A-level student studying physics, biology, history and politics: ‘The only way to replicate the mass engagement of young people, as has been seen in Scotland, is to engage with young people and let them know that their voice must and will be heard.’
• Olivia McDonnell thinks that the education system is unfair to young people: ‘The NSPCC say that over a 12-month period concerns about exam stress have increased by 200%. In most GCSE subjects, coursework has been scrapped and it now all depends on an exam you take at the end of a two year course.’
• Enya Morgan wants to tackle bullying in schools: ‘There needs to be systems in place within schools that allow people just to go and talk to someone confidentially about what they’re going through. I would like to investigate the possibility of having a national system of trained youth advisors in schools.’
• Louis Norton identifies health and wellbeing as a key issue for young people: ‘It is my objective to considerably lower the price of gym memberships. I hope that this will encourage more people under the age of 18 to go to the gym and I believe that this will assist in lowering youth obesity nationwide.’
• Amber Orr is concerned about inequality across the country: ‘There are almost 100,000 children in Britain living in poverty, many without homes and no immediate way out. It is a sad fact that the most desperate of all have the least sway in society.’
• Beth Reddington sees transport for young people as a major issue: ‘I feel passionate about removing barriers to every young person’s education; why should the cost of transport prevent young people from accessing their education?’
• Anabelle Robinson wants to tackle inequality and discrimination: ‘I believe that everyone has the right to a happy and successful life. I also believe that everybody has the right to freedom and choice, and that a disability should not hold you back in any way.’
• Isabel Saffron-Lewis thinks littering is out of hand in Wirral: ‘Graffiti, chewing gum, cigarettes and litter has started to take control of Wirral and I will fight passionately against our home becoming unwelcoming and dirty.’
• Ruth Tanner wants the government to ensure all young people are equally able to take part in school activities: ‘It is very important that children aren’t excluded from school activities and trips because of their parent’s financial difficulties. Who wants to be the kid whose parents can’t afford for them to go on a school holiday?’
• Lori Utting says she will can on her experiences of representing her class mates: ‘I have previously been a representative of my form as school council for the past three years and take pride in what I do and try to be a valuable member of my form.’