Sheffield Youth Cabinet and Youth Parliament

UK’s largest youth consultation tackles the biggest issues for young people today

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Sheffield Futures is taking part in this year’s Make Your Mark ballot, the largest consultation of young people in the country.


In a national annual ballot running from 23rd August until 10th October, young people across the country will be asked what issues matter most to them, in order to determine what is debated by the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) in the House of Commons in November. Voting takes place through ballot papers issues in schools and youth clubs throughout the UK and online. Please vote here!

Ten topics will be available to choose from on the Make Your Mark ballot paper, with the five most popular topics among young people going on to be discussed by Members of Youth Parliament in their November debate, chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, and broadcast live on BBC Parliament.

Last year’s Make Your Mark ballot saw nearly 950,000 young people voting, making it the largest youth consultation of its kind in the UK.

Sheffield Futures support UKYP to campaign on the biggest issues facing young people today. Sarah Stevens, Sheffield Futures Young People’s Participation and Development Manager said: “It’s so encouraging that more young people are getting engaged with the issues which affect them, are challenging these issues and making sure that action takes place.

UKYP campaign to ensure those who can make positive change hear young people’s voices. Make Your Mark ensures that all the top youth issues are raised in schools, to local MP’s and commissioners. We are very proud of all they have achieved.”

This year, young people will be asked to choose their top issue out of the following

  • Mental Health – Mental health services should be improved with young people’s help; and should be available in schools.
  • End Period Poverty – Sanitary products are an essential item. The Government and the NHS should make them free and accessible for all who need it.
  • Votes at 16 – Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections / referendums.
  • Put an end to Knife Crime – Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
  • A curriculum to prepare us for life – Schools should cover topics like finance, sex and relationship education and politics.
  • Support Youth Services – Youth services help young people but in recent years they have been cut. Youth services need better financial support and security.
  • Equal Pay for Equal work – Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
  • Let’s tackle Homelessness – Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
  • Transport – Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all.
  • Welcome Refugees – UK Everyone deserves the right to live without fear of death and persecution so we believe that refugees should be welcomed into communities in the UK.

International Youth Day celebration!

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International Youth Day (12th August) is aimed to draw attention to youth issues and was started by United Nations in 2000. Every year, Sheffield Futures host their annual Youth Day celebration event, providing free fun activities, displays, information stands and more, for all the family.

This year’s theme for International Youth Day is ‘safe spaces for youth,’ something that Sheffield Futures is proud to provide across the city, with weekly youth clubs and their one-stop-shop for young people at Star House on Division Street.

“Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves.” say United Nations.

On Friday 10th August, Sheffield Futures held their celebration at Ice Sheffield. Over 300 young people and families attended the event and enjoyed face painting, football, henna, a graffiti workshop, bucking bronco, bungee run, music, hair glitter, a dance display and more.

Sheffield Futures corporate partners GB Boxing held a training session with three coaches for young people. GB Boxing prepare and train the boxers that compete for Great Britain at the Olympic Games and are based at English Institute of Sport.

Sheffield Futures organised a variety of youth organisations to provide information for attendees, with stalls from Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Door 43 the emotional wellbeing service for young people, Talent Match SCR, Chilypep, Change Grow Live, Pet-Xi, Sheffield Alcohol Support Service, SAYiT, Sexual Health Sheffield and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

At the event, Sheffield Youth Cabinet and Sheffield UK Youth Parliament asked where young people felt safe and here are the results:

  • 85% of young people felt safe where they live
  • 29% of young people did not feel safe in the city centre
  • 73% of young people felt safe at school
  • 70% of young people felt safe in public spaces
  • 62% of young people felt safe in open spaces
  • 13% of young people did not feel safe on public transport
  • 81% of young people felt safe in a youth club
  • 70% of young people felt safe in places of worship

The event was kindly sponsored by SIV, and would not have been possible without their support.

Christmas Wishes Granted

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As you may know, this year our festive fundraisers have been: Santa Stroll, star campaign, and our text to donate fundraiser (simply text SHEF43 £5 to 70070.) All proceeds have gone towards the Sheffield Futures Christmas Wish List! Any further donations are just as important to the young people we support and will be used to supply further services.

We’ve raised over our £489 target and have already seen some of the christmas wishes coming to life. We would like to thank everyone who has taken part in our fundraising this winter. It makes a huge difference!


Where have funds been distributed?



You can see some of the christmas wishes coming to life here!

  • Santa Stroll
  • Santa Stroll
  • Refreshments for Door 43
  • Sheffield Futures Stars
  • Art Supplies
  • Santa Stroll
  • Selection Boxes
  • Staff Time
  • Youth Cabinet

Sheffield Members of Youth Parliament visit House of Commons

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Sheffield’s elected Members of Youth Parliament or MYPs, Lara Ferguson MYP (West Sheffield), Jennifer Okerenta MYP (North Sheffield) and Sapha Habib MYP (East Sheffield) went to the House of Commons on last Friday to debate the top five issues nationally and agree the top two issues for national campaigns with Youth Parliament members from other local authority areas, as part of the Make Your Mark campaign. After a very impressive debate from MYPs from across the United Kingdom including a powerful and eloquent speech from Lara Ferguson MYP (West Sheffield) on protecting LGBT+ people, ‘votes at 16’ and ‘a curriculum to prepare us for life’ were agreed as campaigns to take forward.













Left to right- Jennifer Okerenta MYP (North Sheffield), Sapha Habib MYP (East Sheffield), Lara Ferguson MYP (West Sheffield)

House of commons2

Lara Ferguson MYP (West Sheffield) and nominated speaker for Yorkshire & the Humber, in action, delivering her powerful and eloquent debate led speech

Sheffield’s transport pinpointed as top issue to be tackled by young people for second year running

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Transport in the city has been highlighted as the most pressing issue to be tackled by Sheffield’s young people. 12,020 young people from across Sheffield’s schools voted for their top ten local issues to be tackled as part of the Make Your Mark ballot. Make Your Mark is delivered by our Involvement and Participation team.

Eighteen per cent of young people from across the city who voted, said that service reliability, poor customer service, affordability and the impractical pass system were high priority issues for them in the city. This is the second year that the city’s transport has been highlighted as an issue by young people.

Luke Bassett, Youth Councillor for West Sheffield says, ‘For the past couple of years, young people in and around Sheffield have felt that public transport doesn’t work for them and more needs to be done to improve services and to make them want to use public transport.’

‘As a Youth Cabinet, we have carried out a consultation with young people in the city to find out what it is specifically about public transport which concerns them. More recently, we have been working with other Youth Cabinet/ UK Youth Parliament members from across South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and travel operators from across the region on a South Yorkshire Youth Transport User Group. This gives us a chance to voice the concerns of young people and help improve transport for all.’

Work experience hubs for 11-18 year olds (15 per cent), a curriculum to prepare us for life (11 per cent), mental health (11 per cent) and protecting LGBT+ people (10 per cent) were voted as the remaining priority issues by Sheffield’s young people respectively.

Sheffield’s young people felt that campaigning locally for time to be put aside within the curriculum for initiatives that facilitate life skills development, for example work experience hubs for 11-18 year olds, where they can find work experience, should be high on the priority list. They felt it important that schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum. Young people feel that there is too much of a focus on academic achievement and results and not enough focus on the skills that are going to equip them for the real world.

Joanna an elected youth councillor in the North of Sheffield comments on this, ‘Due to the strain put on my school for their students to have a high GCSE attainment, the focus is on academic subjects and exams as opposed to life skills. Schools particularly in the North, struggle financially, therefore often scrape their way trying to afford simple things such as books whilst trying to provide inclusive teaching. Due to this, schools sadly don’t have much time to do what’s most important; teaching young people that their voice is a gift.’

‘Encouraging schools to do something that isn’t mandatory can be a challenge but it was my elected role; to hear the voice of young people and represent it. When we found out the results it was fantastic! People in politics don’t represent young people, so we choose to represent ourselves and it is such an honour to be in Sheffield Youth Cabinet working alongside some incredibly inspiring people.’ She continues.

As well as campaigning on these locally elected issues, Sheffield’s elected Youth Parliament members or MYP’s are going to the House of Commons today to debate the top five issues nationally with Youth Parliament members from other local authority areas as part of the Make Your Mark campaign. They will then agree the top two national issues on the day to be taken forward as a national campaign.

Commenting on the results from the report Gail Gibbons, CEO Officer at Sheffield Futures comments ‘We are really proud to be in such a privileged position to be able to facilitate Sheffield’s young people in setting their local campaigning agenda to get their voices heard and initiate change as well as getting their voices heard at a national level.’

‘It’s so important that we listen to our young people and take action to enable positive change in our communities for the next generation.’

‘We’re really proud of our Sheffield UK Youth Parliament members and look forward to the outcomes of the national UK Youth Parliament debates at the Houses of Commons.’

Other issues close to the hearts of Sheffield’s young people include votes at 16, support for young carers and protecting school budgets.

You can get hold of a full copy of the Make Your Mark report which lists all the schools involved by contacting Lee Raven (

Young people joined Paul Blomfield MP for a Big Conversation

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Members of Sheffield’s Youth Cabinet and UK Youth Parliament joined young people at Sheffield Futures for a Big Conversation with Paul Blomfield MP. The Big Conversation is an annual community consultation with a variety of audiences.

On 20th September, the Big Conversation came to Sheffield Futures on Division Street for a special event for young people. Youth Councillor for East Sheffield, Fozia Sultana, chaired the event, helping young people to form and ask questions about the issues that matter to them.

The conversation tackled big issues such as ‘making the invisible, visible’. This is one of the issues on the current youth consultation Make Your Mark, aimed at helping invisible illnesses be more recognisable, through better education. Fozia Sultana said: “There should be more opportunities for support when people are suffering with illnesses which are physically invisible.”

The groups spoke about issues facing young carers, many of whom do not realise that they are carers. One young person said: “there should be more support from the Government for young carers, both emotional and physical support. One practical way that young carers could be helped is with free or heavily discounted travel passes, this would be one less thing for young carers to think about.”

 One young person said: “We need a more diverse curriculum. Schools needs to include LGBT+ in sex education lessons, and to have a focus on emotional relationships, not just physical.”

 The conversation also focussed on mental health, with one young person describing their experiences of mental health services. They said: “In the past I gave up trying to access mental health services because there isn’t enough provision for everyone who needs it. There also needs to be a way for young people to access support at earlier stages, rather than when they’re at crisis point.”

Paul Blomfield MP listened to the young people, and said: “I have been given a completely new insight about young people’s mental health which I have never understood before and this has been very useful.”

After calling the event very interesting, Paul concluded: “A common theme in the discussions has been changes to the curriculum to prepare young people for life. Schools are currently measured by success in exam league tables and we could help to instruct schools to include education about life skills young people need for their futures.”

 “Your voice is a very important part of setting my priorities. Thank you all for contributing and your time.”

Our impact on people in Sheffield City Region

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Sheffield Futures has proudly launched their annual Impact Report, demonstrating the ways in which thousands of people are benefitting from their services across the city.

The report for 2016/17 documents Sheffield Futures impact on young people, including supporting 3827 young people through one-to-one interventions and running 54 youth club sessions per week across Sheffield. The charity has presented 369 young people with Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards and supported 816 young people to improve their attitude towards school. Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service have provided Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness training to 1093 young people in schools across the city region.

The charity provides mentoring and specialist support to those who need it most in the region. Sheffield Futures provide support and activities to help steer young people towards a more positive future, one in which they can fulfil their full potential in learning, employment and life.

The report was launched at Sheffield Futures Showcase Event on 18th July at the Workstation. At the event, four videos were shown, demonstrating how all Sheffield Futures services provide support to local people in four key areas: improved social skills, life skills and independence; enabling community participation and belonging; meaningful progression in education, employment and training and improved health and wellbeing.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Anne Murphy, launched the Showcase Event said: “Sheffield Futures have a huge impact on the lives of young people and communities in Sheffield. Today’s communities face many challenges and Sheffield Futures work is vital to helping local people overcome the barriers to success.”

Olympian, and Sheffield Futures Ambassador, Bryony Page, attended the event as well as Sheffield Young Advisors who were part of a “youth takeover” of all Sheffield Futures social media accounts. One young person on the Talent Match programme, Laura, told her story, from homelessness through to successfully sustaining employment. Young Advisor, Jess Chittenden, recorded a video where she talks about how Sheffield Futures have helped her to gain confidence and to become the person she is today.

The Impact Report 2016/17 is available on the Sheffield Futures website:

Calling all political parties to focus on young people!

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We fully support National Youth Agency’s Manifesto, calling on all political parties to focus on young people. Find out more here.

“We believe young people need:


Recognise the value of youth work and develop a government-wide strategy that acknowledges its contribution to young people’s personal and social development. Invest in it and make it more accessible to young people.


Youth work based support can help young people take the opportunity that apprenticeships offer. Skilled youth workers support young people through the first crucial 6 weeks when the drop-out rate is highest and provide wrap around support for more vulnerable young people entering work for the first time.


Social action is great but a range of services catering for different needs should be available to young people and across a broader age range than 16-17 year olds.


Young people need financial know-how at key transition points in their lives – when they start a job, when they start living independently. Building these skills are as important as formal qualifications in supporting young people’s life chances. Government needs to back a comprehensive programme of financial capability and see investment in services of this kind as a long-term benefit.


Lower voting age to 16 years and acknowledge the contribution young people make to society at this age.”


Don’t forget to register to vote. You can do that here and it only takes two minutes – all you need is your National Insurance Number.


What are the main political parties policies for young people? Find out below:

Liberal Democrat Party

  • Rent to buy deposit-free homes for young people.
  • Housing benefit reinstated for 18-21 year olds.
  • Votes for 16-17 year olds.
  • Young person’s bus pass with two thirds discount.
  • £100 per week for start up entrepreneurs. Read more.

 Labour Party

  • Abolition of tuition fees and reintroduction of maintenance grants.
  • Free lunches for pupils.
  • Votes for 16-17 year olds.
  • Extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health.
  • Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds from lower and middle income backgrounds.
  • Improve careers advice.
  • Investment – in teachers and facilities – in FE sector.
  • End the cuts to youth services. (no detail on this available yet)
  • Extend Staying Put arrangements to support all children and young people in residential and other forms of care until they are 21 (not just foster care). Read more.

Green Party

  • Scrap tuition fees and fund student grants.
  • Reintroduce the Education Maintenance Allowance.
  • Guarantee access to apprenticeships for qualified 16-25 year olds.
  • Raise the national minimum wage level to living wage levels for all.
  • Lowering the voting age to 16 and introducing political and active citizenship education for all young people. Read more.

 Conservative Party

  • Better access to mental health care in schools with teachers trained in mental health first aid and curriculum related learning.
  • Improve technical education to offer a real alternative to academic routes for young people.
  • Establish new institutes of technology which focus on STEM and are linked to employers and universities. Read more.

How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.