“I’d say I inspire people through representation, when you see more black women in these positions of power, so successful as role models for boys and girls to look up to, it’s amazing.”
Angel Ezeadum represented Race Council Cymru in the last Welsh Youth Parliament, which provides 11-17 year olds a national platform to raise the issues that matter most to their generation. She’s encouraging other young people to nominate themselves for this year’s Welsh Youth Parliament election.
Elected Members will listen to other young people in Wales and stand up for the things that matter to them. They’ll also have the opportunity to work with those in power to make sure young people’s voices are heard in decisions that affect their future.
Of the 60 Members elected this year, 20 will be elected by youth charities and organisations across Wales to make sure the Welsh Youth Parliament is made up of a diverse group of young people.
Youth charities and organisations
This year, 18 youth charities and organisations across Wales have been selected to join forces with the Welsh Youth Parliament over the next two years, including Race Council Cymru, Tŷ Hafan, Talking Hands and National Deaf Children’s Society, and Carers Trust Wales.
The partners range from Wales-wide networks such as Young Farmers Wales and Boys and Girls Clubs of Wales to groups with a local focus such as Gwynedd-based charity GISDA and YMCA Swansea.
They will each hold their own elections to select young people from their groups to represent them in the next Welsh Youth Parliament.
Angel Ezeadum added “There is so much we [young people] can do. I think that once someone sees your face there, you’re going to inspire at least one person and for them to have the self-belief that they can achieve too. So I hope that seeing me in the Youth Parliament would inspire you guys to one day apply for it too. It’s possible, whether you’re a girl, boy, person of colour or not. It’s truly something that’s achievable and that can happen.”
Sophie Billinghurst represented Talking Hands, an all-Wales charity providing services for deaf children, young people and their families, in the first Welsh Youth Parliament. She says the experience gave her more confidence to achieve things she never would have thought of doing.
“The biggest thing that being a part of the Welsh Youth Parliament did for me as a person, and for the organisation I represent, is give me more confidence. I would never have thought I would do a speech in front of so many people, but the Welsh Youth Parliament gave me a chance to do it and conquer the fear of public speaking. It boosted my confidence. It also allowed me to have a voice for not only me but for the deaf community I represented, who wouldn’t have had their voices heard before.
“One of the most memorable experiences I had was the first time we all got together and did our speeches on a topic we felt passionate about. It was amazing to listen to so many powerful speeches! Another thing which changed me is the friendships I’ve built all over Wales, and they will be friends for life.”
Hasna Ali represented the children’s rights charity Tros Gynnal Plant. Hasna was born in Syria, and came to live in Wales with her family as a refugee.
“It was an amazing experience to take a part of Welsh Youth Parliament. Before I joined I was too shy about everything but Youth Parliament helped me to be a strong. The best thing about being a Welsh Youth Parliament Member was that I've meet a lot of lovely people and it has also helped me to improve my English language. Over all I would like to thank Tros Gynnal Plant and Welsh Youth Parliament who believed in me and also gave me that amazing opportunity.”
The partner organisation were selected by the Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland and Chair of the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, Jayne Bryant MS.
Supporting and empowering young people
Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS, said “We have selected a varied list of experienced organisations with a track record in supporting and empowering young people and who will, I have no doubt, contribute greatly to the work of the next Welsh Youth Parliament.“
Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, who supported the selection process of partner organisations, said “We want to make sure our Youth Parliament sits right at the heart of our democratic process. For this to happen, we need to make sure its members represent the diverse communities of Wales. Working in partnership with organisations enables the Youth Parliament to support young people with a rich variety of experiences and views to stand as elected members to ensure it represents the interest of the whole of Wales and its people.”
Young people who aren’t involved in the chosen partner organisations still have a chance to become a Welsh Youth Parliament Member. A Wales-wide election will be held in the autumn, when 40 Members will be elected by young people in their local area to represent them in the Youth Parliament.
Applications are now open for 11-17 year olds to stand in the election, but hurry, applications close on the 20 September.
The partners who will work with the Welsh Youth Parliament over the coming two years are:
- Race Council Cymru
- EYST (Ethnic Minority and Youth Support Team Wales)
- Tros Gynnal Plant Cymru
- JOINT Talking Hands & National Deaf Children Society
- Carers Trust Wales
- Learning Disability Wales
- Digon – LGBTQ+ youth group within Ysgol Gyfun Plasmawr
- GirlGuiding Cymru
- Young Farmers Club Wales
- Urdd Gobaith Cymru
- NYAS Cymru
- Voices from Care Cymru
- Tŷ Hafan
- Boys' and Girls' Clubs of Wales
- YMCA Swansea