Ardeel Hussain introduces the new Young Fabians Under 19s Advocacy Group ahead of their inaugural event next week with Hilary Benn MP. You can RSVP to the event here.
Being a young person aged under 19 can be overwhelming.
Under the weight of the huge issues of our time, it's easy to feel demoralised, frustrated and angry especially when we have a Conservative government not just failing to address these crises, but fuelling them.
The future of our planet as we know it is under threat, the catastrophic impacts of climate change paired with a government falling short of its rhetoric spells disaster worldwide. And it is us, the youngest generation, who will see and feel the full extent of its effect as our government fails to act.
Many young people under 19 know all too well the personal impact that this government’s disastrous management of the exam system has spelled out for us. Uncertainty, algorithms and pressure have seen the stress on young people at such a crucial time skyrocket. Many young people feel hard done by as the exam fiasco saw so many miss out on key qualifications, having a massive impact on their opportunities in education and beyond.
We have a broken student finance system that only disheartens young people seeking higher education and when the government announces an effective ban on those without a maths or english GCSE from attending University, it's clear that they seem set on levelling down the aspirations of young people under 19, rather than levelling up.
It’s hard not to be worried when looking at the bleak state of the housing market, which looks utterly inaccessible for young people looking for homes. It feels almost certain that our generation will be worse off than the generation of our parents.
All this feeds into a crisis of mental health amongst young people, which is only exacerbated by mental health services that are underfunded and locked behind huge waiting lists. Young people are forced to suffer in silence with serious mental health issues for weeks or even months, all because our government fails to address young people’s mental health as an important issue and commit to funding it properly.
The Young Fabians Under 19s Advocacy Group is a brand new group set up to represent those under the age of 19 who have their own unique policy issues and interests. We want our advocacy group to be a positive environment that fosters discussion on the issues and provides our members under 19 the space to develop and share their policy solutions to the crises we face. Our advocacy group will be a safe and friendly community where our under 19 members will be supported and have their voices championed.
We plan to provide a programme conducive to political dialogue and policy discussion with:
- Speaker events where we invite guests from experts in their fields to decision makers from the Labour frontbench to beyond
- Policy debates where members under 19 can discuss, formulate and listen to policy solutions and ideas from fellow members on issues decided by our members
- Opportunities to collaborate and feed into the work of other Young Fabians networks, which need to hear and incorporate the perspectives of our under 19 members
Being under 19 often means our voices and contributions can often be ignored, due to a stereotypical belief that our youth is correlated to a lack of political competency. We want to be the group that challenges that incorrect stereotype of young people, we want to be the forum that provides that community in which under 19s can voice their opinions and ideas on some of the biggest issues faced by under 19s. Age should certainly not be a determinant to our participation and shaping of the country we live in, especially when we are going to live through the consequences of decisions taken today.
We’re proud to say that as a group we have invited Hilary Benn MP to the first of our events, a prominent Labour politician both on the front and back benches of Parliament. We hope to draw upon his experience as Environment Secretary in the last Labour government as well as his wider expertise on issues such as Brexit and beyond to put on an event focused on the ‘future of young people’. This event will be one of many opportunities to come where we and our members will be able to put questions to the decision makers and experts centred around young people’s needs, interests and issues.
So, to all those who share our Fabian values and are under 19, please join us by getting in touch with us via email and come along to our first event with Hilary Benn MP by RSVPing here!
We look forward to seeing what our group can achieve over the coming year and we hope you can join us for that journey.
Ardeel Hussain is the Secretary of the Young Fabians Under 19’s Advocacy Group. He is also Youth Officer for Birmingham Perry Barr CLP. Ardeel is an A Level student and will be studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at university next year. He tweets at @ardeelhussain.