20,000 ballot box results highlight youth concerns

The Doctor's Pond in Great Dunmow.

Uttlesford young people are concerned about the environment. Picture shows The Doctor's Pond in Great Dunmow - Credit: SaffronPhoto

Uttlesford youngsters care most about the environment, ballot box results have revealed.

Young people aged 11 to 18 were asked to vote on what was the most important to them, through the UK Youth Parliament's Make Your Mark ballot.

Participation in Essex was the highest in the East of England, with 20,000 getting involved.

The results will influence hundreds of projects and campaigns, led by young people, for young people across the UK. 

This year seven issues were presented to young people on a ballot paper, and they voted in schools, colleges, and youth groups.

Youngsters in Uttlesford voted that Environment was the most important to them (286 votes), closely followed by Health and Wellbeing (283 votes), with Jobs, Money, Homes and Opportunities taking third place (254 votes).

Uttlesford's data was within West Essex, also covering Epping Forest and Harlow. As a collective area, students said their top concern was Jobs, Money, Homes and Opportunities (1,090), with Health and Wellbeing (1,024) in second place, and Environment in the third position of priority (856).

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Across Essex, young people said the category called Jobs, Money, Homes and Opportunities was their most important issue. It gained just over a quarter of the votes from seven options (4,557 votes), followed by Health and Wellbeing (4,307). Health and Wellbeing came out top for the East of England as a whole.

The Young Essex Assembly (YEA), the elected youth council which has 75 members, worked with Essex Youth Service to ensure as many young people as possible got involved.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Essex County Council’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Community, Equality, Partnership and Performance, said: “I am really pleased to see the strength of response from young people across Essex.

"The decisions we make as an administration will have an impact on them now and as they move into adulthood. It is absolutely right that they have the chance to share their views. 

“I look forward to seeing young people across Essex become future leaders and influence decisions more widely.” 

The seven issues presented to young people were: Health and wellbeing; Jobs, money, homes and opportunities; Education and learning; Environment; Poverty; Young people’s rights and democracy, and Covid-19 recovery.

As the ballot did not include questions relating to crime or community safety, the Youth Service and the YEA will hold two further youth engagement events in 2022.