Youth Parliament members debate mental health issues in the House

Ellen Burke and Michael Ita at Parliament.
Ellen Burke and Michael Ita at Parliament.

Two members of Central Bedfordshire’s Youth Parliament have spoken of their experience of debating and voting for a national campaign in the House of Commons.

Council Member Michael Ita, a student at Redborne School, Ampthill, and Deputy Member of UK Youth Parliament, Ellen Burke, from Sandy Upper School, were among 285 Members of the UK Youth Parliament who voted as their 2015 national campaign that ‘Mental health services should be improved with the help of young people’.

‘A Living Wage for all’ was also chosen as the priority campaign for England, voted for out of five motions in a debate on Friday, November 14, which opened Parliament Week and was chaired by Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

Michael said: “The event was a truly great experience. Being able to debate and sit where the most important national debates happen was simply phenomenal and as and has made me highly consider becoming an MP.

“I was very happy with the outcome of campaigns as I voted for both. The Living Wage is a personal passion of mine and I even had the great opportunity to speak on it.

“I also voted for the mental health motion as I believe that life is precious and we need a healthy body and mind to succeed in life.”

Ellen said: “Going to the House of Commons was an amazing experience. Being able to sit on the same green benches as many of the MPs who inspire me was an honour to say the least.

“To be able to hear the passionate speeches of the other Members of Youth Parliament and have my say on what the national campaign is going be was incredible.

“I’m so grateful that I was able to go. It is certainly an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.”

Mark Versallion, Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “I am delighted that Michael and Ellen got the chance to experience the excitement of a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons.

“The two campaigns that were debated on and voted for are important issues that affect all young people and I am encouraged by how they highlight a positive engagement with the UK’s democratic system and institutions.”

The two campaigns were chosen from five UK Youth Parliament motions, which were debated in the House of Commons. They had been voted for by 876,000 young people across Britain in the annual UKYP Make Your Mark ballot. Central Bedfordshire’s Youth Parliament had enjoyed the highest percentage turnout in the county (23.76 per cent), where 5,796 people had their say including 1,100 through the @CBYouthVoice Twitter page alone.

Cllr Versallion added: “The outstanding results of the Make Your Mark ballot that preceded the UK Youth Parliament debates are also another example of the appetite for politics among the young people of Central Bedfordshire and I look forward to the work they will undertake in 2015 around their chosen national and priority campaigns.”

Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP, who attended the House of Commons debate, said: “We have seen Britain’s young people at their best – informed, articulate and passionate. You have demonstrated what Parliament and politics can be at its very best.”

For more on Central Bedfordshire Youth Voice go online to or follow @CBYouthVoice on Twitter.