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Let’s protect the British Youth Council

27/03/2024

The announcement of the permanent closure of the British Youth Council (BYC) has come as a surprise to all of us. The British Youth Council is one of the longest standing National Youth Councils in the world. It was initially set up by the Foreign Office in 1948 and became a charity independent of the government in 1963. In recent years, the British Youth Council has been known for its campaigns to empower young people and for its flagship “Youth Voice” programme which is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and UK Parliament.

BYC is the only youth-led UK charity which has international recognition both at the European Youth Forum and the Council of Europe. Its closure would mean the immediate loss of UK youth voices in these two important European platforms as well as Commonwealth fora. It would also lead to the BYC losing its influence in structures such as the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth, where UK youth voices currently contribute to shaping the international youth agenda and work of the institution as a whole.

Young people care about their communities, peers and wider society. Youth voices deserve to be heard in public debate and should be nurtured to participate fully. It is unthinkable for the UK to lose this important organisation, which represents the voice of 24 million young people nationally, in Europe, across the Commonwealth, and globally. We are encouraged to see that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is looking into ways to keep the programmes going. Yet the closure of BYC as a structure would leave the UK as one of the few countries in Europe without a representative and youth-led National Youth Council. We therefore call upon the British government to do whatever is necessary to guarantee the UK does not lose its National Youth Council structure.

We believe that collaboration between the elected and mandated BYC representatives and the government is essential to ensure a smooth process and the continued representation of UK youth. As their European network, we remain in close coordination with BYC members and are looking forward to a solution that will ensure having a youth-led, democratic and representative National Youth Council in the UK.

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