Meet the 16-year-old providing a voice for Carmarthenshire’s youth

ARWEN SKINNER is not a name you would be familiar with but it is a name you may see in months to come if you have an interest in politics.

The old saying is that ‘children should be seen and not heard’.

Sixteen is not an age considered to be worthy enough of as to allow that age group to vote but as one speaker, Alex McDermott at the Youth Parliament pointed out, it was an age whereby he was legally entitled to have sex with his MP even though he may not have voted for them. Yes, that got a roar of laughter at Parliament too, followed by rapturous applause for the MYP from Derbyshire.

Alex McDermott (pic. British Youth Council Youtube)

Arwen Skinner has become Carmarthenshire’s member of the Youth Parliament (MYP).

Despite being slightly apprehensive about the position she finds herself in representing the youth of the county, she says she is ready and up to the work ahead.

We interviewed Arwen via Zoom on Wednesday (May 21).

Technology she said plays a big part in her life but she said that she was aware that technology was something, which also had its pitfalls especially the fact that it was not as accessible or easy to use for the elderly, who may be disconnected from political life as a result.

Politics has become far more than meeting the MP to discuss the problems with the drains on the street. The local MP or MS no find themselves having to read up on and speak about global issues, which directly or indirectly affect Mrs Jones from no 22.

So what are the issues, the hot topics for a sixteen year old from Carmarthenshire wanting to change the world?

The top three issues Arwen said that she would be focusing on during her term in office are;
• The environment
• Mental Health
• Social Media

The UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11-18 year olds to use their elected voice to bring about social change through meaningful representation and campaigning.

Arwen has already busied herself trying to contact all the politicians who represent Carmarthenshire.

Nia Griffith MP speaking to Arwen Skinner via Zoom

They would be foolish to ignore her requests for contact or missives as she has the eyes and ears of the youth and the youth of today are the voters of tomorrow.

The UK Youth Parliament has been campaigning to bring about social change since 1999. Each year, following the Make Your Mark ballot and a vote by Members of Youth Parliament in the House of Commons, they set about campaigning on the most important issues for young people.

Some of those issues have included;
• ending knife crime
• mental health
• equal pay, for equal work
• tackling homelessness
• votes at 16

Each topic is chosen in a ballot.

The Make Your Mark ballot is supported by Local Authorities, schools, UK Parliament, Fledglink and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It gives young people across the country a say on what is to be debated on the green benches of the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament.

The Make Your Mark ballot orders the top five issues, but those chosen for the UK wide priorities debate must include 2 UK wide topics and 3 Devolved topics. Due to the devolved nature of the UK democracy and to ensure relevant representation of the issues from all nations.

Arwen  was joined by a former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones. The wisened 77-year-old former MP and political commentator who is still very active mind you, offered words of wisdom to the young MYP.

Political commentator and Welsh content editor Gwynoro Jones on Zoom

The full interview can be listened to here:



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