SHYPP’s General Election Youth Debate

Written by Seb Bowley, SHYPP Volunteer

The recent call for a snap general election from the Prime Minister sparked many conversations that I had with people from all generations. The same question kept coming up, who should I vote for? One of these conversation was with SHYPP staff on the night of our Cheese and Wine fundraiser and it inspired us to call a ‘Snap Debate’.  If we don’t know who to vote for, then how are young people, who may be first time or undecided voters going to know.  The debate would give them the chance to ask questions on the issues that matter to them.  So I set about planning it.

We set a date, Thursday 25th May and confirmed all the candidates for the debate within 48 hours, they said they were very excited about taking part. The following days we decided on a format, with the first half featuring prepared questions and the second half open to the audience to ask questions, concluding with candidates saying why we should vote for them on June 8th.

The next phase of the debate planning was to gather questions for the event from young people across SHYPP.  We chose our venue, De Koffie Pot, as its a perfect location and they are always so supportive of us. Then we were ready.

On the night, we had wide range of people in the audience from SHYPP young people, members of the public, young doctors, and customers from the De Koffie Pot. The entire turnout was fantastic for a snap debate for snap election.

Here are some of the questions asked by the audience at the debate;

‘NHS is at breaking point, how would you fund your manifesto pledges’

‘What is your view on the cuts to Housing Benefit for under 35 year olds? And if this is passed what other options do you foresee for these young people?’

‘Public transport in Herefordshire is extremely expensive, especially on a small budget. What are you going to do to make sure we have cheaper and better services?’

‘How would your party look to provide vital accommodation like foyers and supported housing in Herefordshire and make the rents affordable?’

‘I’m 19 and was able to vote in brexit, shypp take in 16 year olds, what are your feelings on lowering the voting the age to 16?’

You all said you want to listen to young people, we want to invite you to spend a day with SHYPP, to come and see us at work and to meet young people who haven’t got anywhere to sleep

The overall feedback from candidates and the audience has been really positive and overwhelming and when the next election happens, we will do this again and encourage even more young people to vote and have their say in our democracy.

Afterwards I spoke to all the candidates and they have agreed to attend a day at SHYPP and we also have an offer to visit Westminster to see how their voice is heard at the heart of government .

Personally the experience was fantastcic and challenging with such a tight time frame and to host a high profile event for SHYPP. I don’t think I would have been able to put together this debate or even chair the evening if it wasn’t for the skills I learnt as a young person at SHYPP as chairman for our Youth Advisory Board.


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