On May 29th, Harry set out his priorities for this summer, the things he pledged to achieve. Greater democracy, greater youth rights and greater support for the vulnerable were his focus between June and the end of August. Below is a full account of the work he’s done in these areas.
Greater Youth Rights
In enhancing rights for young people, Harry worked closely with the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) in developing “Measures of Respect“. Harry steered this project with two other activists, drafting the initial measures by which organisations that interact with young people could assess their treatment of young people. The Measures are set to be published prior to the project’s completion in November.
Harry committed to working with CRAE because “I believe that CRAE is a really great organisation for representing the rights of young people. The Measures project is important because I believe that institutions need to recognise, adopt and demonstrate the ways that they can respect the rights of children and young people and understand equality across all ages. This is key to better working relationships between young people and their communities”.
Harry committed to holding joint surgeries with Sheffield’s MPs so as to bring together elected representatives and the city’s young people. The Q&A sessions which were chaired by Harry were very successful. Outcomes included support from Clive Betts MP for a student bus pass that includes the summer months, which at present does not happen. Furthermore David Blunkett MP was keen to work with Harry on coordinating a website that would provide advice for those facing the brunt of EMA’s scrapping.
“The surgeries were a very positive sign that when young people are enthused about politics and meet their representatives, some really good work can be produced. The questions from the young people who attended showed a maturity that often goes unrecognised by the general public, and that we are not a self interested sector of society. As well as youth issues, wider topics such as the rise in the cost of living and extremism were hotly debated”
Following the UK Riots, Harry and other youth leaders in Sheffield met with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to talk about the peace that was kept in Sheffield. Harry was also able to arrange for a joint surgery with him in late September.
Also in August, Harry had a meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, with the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit to discuss the Big Society. Harry believed that for the schemes to be successful, young people had to have a role in decision making and choosing what community programmes should take place. The meeting was very promising and Harry later said that it showed that Downing Street was open to listening to young people and their ideas and involving them in democracy.
Greater Support for the Vulnerable
The Young Carer’s Card has been an ongoing project since March 2010, which Harry in his role as coordinator has continued over the summer. The card is to be introduced in schools and will help better identify Young Carers to staff in a confidential way, and remove some of the strain put on Carers by school and additional responsibilities.
The design of the card has this Summer been completed, and pilot schools to test the card have been selected. The funding streams for their implementation have been finalised, and meetings with Young Carers in the city have taken place in July with Harry and other Members of Youth Parliament in Sheffield also working on the campaign.
In light of cuts to EMA and suggested problems in the new system of support, the pupil Discretionary Fund, Harry challenged the Education Minister Tim Loughton MP and asked for a review on the current policies being pursued by the government. The removal of EMA and what appears to be its insufficient replacement is a barrier to education, one which Harry believes targets the already disadvantaged in an unfair way. Further to this Harry has contacted the Shadow Education Secretary about working closely on scrutinizing the Coalition and giving young people a fairer deal.
Keeping to pledges is something important to restoring trust in politics and social activists. The idea of fairness, duty and support are core to Harry and his campaigns’ principles. To read more of what Harry’s and his team have done this Summer, search the other posts here on the site or follow him on twitter for daily briefings.