In which Anna McGovern, the new Member of the UK Youth Parliament for Medway, introduces herself..
Young people do not have the vote. But we do have a voice. More than ever, society is recognising the truly immense power of youth social action. Young people are the next generation of adults – and therefore we deserve a say in what our futures will be.
My name is Anna McGovern, and I am an award-winning national campaigner and volunteer for charities such as the NSPCC, Childline, and the #iwill campaign. My charitable work is incredibly varied; from publicly speaking at events, to working behind the scenes on large-scale campaigns, I advocate towards a variety of causes in many different ways. I am the holder of the UK Childhood Champion award for Outstanding Young Volunteer of the Year in London and the South East, and I was nationally recognised by Prime Minister Theresa May as the UK’s 1050th Point of Light for services to volunteering.
After youth-led elections took place across the Medway community, myself and Oliver were elected as Members of the UK Youth Parliament for Medway. We represent the young people of Medway on a local and a national scale, ensuring that the youth are kept at the forefront of all decisions made. I am incredibly humbled that young people chose me to represent them as their MYP, and I hope that in my one year term, I can make a truly positive impact upon the community.
As an MYP in your local community, you are often expected to run a campaign that tackles a prevalent issue affecting your constituents. I wanted to tackle something extremely critical, but was perhaps not being highlighted in the way that it should be. I knew that there is a particularly prevalent issue occurring in the Medway community, alone, yet it was not having the public coverage that it should have been gaining. It was also an issue extremely close to my heart.
My campaign is to raise awareness of sexual violence in the Medway community.
Between February 2018 and January 2019, 42.81% of all crime in Medway was violence and sexual offences. That is a horrifying statistic, indicating towards a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed – and now. That is what I want to do. I want to address the sexual violence crimes occurring in the Medway community.
I believe that the way to do this is through education. If you educate children from a young age about key topics in society, such as healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to make a report, you are equipping them with the necessary skills they need in today’s society, and in the future. This is why I am strongly behind the government’s new guidelines for enforcing Relationship Education as a compulsory lesson in primary and secondary schools. This policy has been controversial with some groups and parents believing that young children may not have the emotional maturity to process this information, but I disagree. If a child is taught from an early age about key topics such as consent, different types of relationships, and identifying the signs of harassment and abuse, they will learn to respect themselves as well as others, thus they will learn how to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner in the future.
I hope to visit youth organisations across the Medway community to educate their young people on topics surrounding sexual violence – from consent to healthy and unhealthy relationships, to reaching out for support, and more. By beginning these conversations, you are encouraging young people to be more open in discussing issues that have an impact on them. You are granting them with the necessary knowledge and tools they need to have courage in themselves, and to feel able to speak out if something were to ever happen to them.
I also hope to work with a wide range of political parties, local councillors and key individuals in Medway to allow for my campaign to create a vaster impact upon the community. As an MYP, I do not follow a politically inclined viewpoint so it allows me to best serve the interests of all constituents of the Medway community. I have worked with Medway Labour who supports my campaign and is on hand to give me advice where needed, and I hope to work with other political parties going forward as well.
At the end of my campaign, I will be developing a finalised report detailing all the information that has been collected, and everything that has been achieved. For my report, I will include all of the work I have done towards this campaign; from survey results, to the outcome of meetings, to my work in the community and beyond, and more. My report will be published online and available for public use.
On the 22nd March 2019, I presented my campaign plans to the Medway Youth Council’s Full Council meeting. I went through the key aspects of what I wanted to achieve within my campaign, and what I wanted to do for the community in my term as an MYP for Medway. After a Q&A session was hosted where youth councillors inquired me on particular points of my campaign, I received an overwhelming majority of 89% votes backing me to go forward with my campaign. One of the most important aspects of the Medway Youth Council is the emphasis on democracy. I am representing these young people in their community – and allowing them to have a vote on their MYP’s campaign enables them to have a say on what issues are tackled in their best interests.
I am happy to meet all constituents of the Medway community and am easily contactable on my social media platforms, and via email. If you want to arrange a meeting, a workshop in your youth organisation, or have any other business, please feel free to contact me. My email address is email@example.com.
The existence of the UK Youth Parliament provides young people with a voice to represent their constituents, and a platform to nationally initiate change. You are not going to change anything by sitting back, and wait for someone else to do it. Get yourself out there. If you want something to change, take the lead and do it yourself. You have a voice, and the power to make a difference – so use it.
Anna McGovern is a Member of UK Youth Parliament for Medway and serves as a national volunteer for a variety of different charities across the UK, such as the NSPCC and Childline. She is currently studying for her A Levels at Rochester Independent College, and she endeavours to continue the prospect of creating a vast impact upon others through her social action work.