British Youth Council
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Logo of the British Youth Council
|Jo Hobbs (Chief Executive Officer) & Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson (Chair)|
The British Youth Council (BYC) is a UK charity that works to empower young people and promote their interests. BYC, run by young people, exists to represent the views of young people to government and decision-makers at a local, national, European and international level; and to promote the increased participation of young people in society and public life. It is partly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The British Youth Council was established by the Foreign Office of the British Government in preparation for the first World Assembly of Youth. Its original aim was to unite young people in Britain against the forces of communism just after World War II.
In 1963, the Council gained independence from the British Government and became a UK charity championing the opinions of young people.
From the late 1960s, the Council expanded its work in connecting youth councils across the UK – a move championed by then staff member John Denham, former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
In 1971, BYC organised the annual World Assembly of Youth event in Manchester where Prime Minister Edward Heath was the keynote speaker.
BYC published the "Youth Unemployment: Cause and Cures" report. They also attended the 11th World Festival on Youth in Cuba where motions were passed on the human rights records of the USSR and USA. Delegates include Trevor Phillips, Paul Boateng and Charles Clarke MP.
In 1987 BYC Scotland closed due to funding cuts by the Government. The British Youth Council also had its Foreign Office grant withdrawn due to the changes in international relations. However, the Council continued topromote local youth councils and was involved in the UK's signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In the 1990s BYC worked with partners in campaigns to get young people registered to vote and on issues of young people's employment. They also worked in the field in youth policy and research, producing a number of journals and publications.
Notable publications during this decade include ‘Never Had it So Good: The Truth about being young in nineties Britain’ (1996), and the 1998 report ‘State of the Young Nation’, which asked 1000 young people about their participation in society and their understanding of political processes.
Continuing increase in BYC’s research, consultation and policy work culminated in 2000 with the biggest consultation with young people that the Government had ever commissioned on areas such as education, employment and young people having their say. The conclusion, 'Listening to the Unheard', led the formulation of the European White Paper on Youth which BYC co-ordinated as the UK members of the European Youth Forum.
The organisation celebrated its 60th birthday in 2008 by engaging ten young people to make a documentary film about British youth culture over the last 60 years; in particular, how young people have been able to influence society and democracy.
According to its Annual Review 2008/09: “The BYC is led by young people, for young people aged 25 and under across the UK. We connect with our community of member organisations and network of Local Youth Councils to empower all young people, wherever they’re from, to have a say and be heard. Our take on training and volunteering and our powerful campaigns, both local and global, inspire young people to have a positive impact and make their voices count”
The British Youth Council’s vision is that all young people are respected, and able to influence and inform decisions which affect their lives or upon which they have strong opinions.
The British Youth Council’s four values are recognition, equality, diversity and participation.
The British Youth Council Board of Trustees is made up of 12 young people aged 16–25. These annually elected trustees employ 14 staff and 10 full-time volunteers, and manage a body of young campaigners and media spokespeople. The organisation is a registered charity, and a registered company limited by guarantee, in order to enable the appointment of directors under 18 years old.
The Council has over 250 members including national youth organisations, faith-based groups, and organisations representing minority groups of young people. In addition, the Council supports a network of 620 youth councils and youth forums, also run by young people.
The British Youth Council assists young people to represent themselves through activities such as Young People in Parliament Events, having their voices heard by politicians and policy makers. It sets up initiatives that celebrate young people's achievements such as the Royal Society of Arts Young Leader Awards.With support from the House of Commons, the British Youth Council established the Youth Select Committee which, in 2013, held an inquiry into the national curriculum with 11 young panel Members.
The Council supports young people to find volunteering opportunities and other opportunities for young people through its website, its membership base and through newsletters like the BYC Project and its Online Action Network.
The British Youth Council now manages Participation Works – a group of national charities working to ensure that every child and young person can influence decisions affecting their lives. They are working with the Children's Rights Alliance for England, The National Youth Agency, the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, Save the Children (England) and formerly the National Children's Bureau.
The Council is a founding member of the UK Votes at 16 Coalition. The coalition consist of various organisations and political parties and is led by Children's Rights Alliance for England, the National Union of Students and the Scottish Youth Parliament.
Prior to the 2015 General Election, the Council became a founding member of the UK branch of the League of Young Voters The League's steering group consists of Scottish Youth Parliament, Northern Ireland Youth Forum, Bite The Ballot and the National Union of Students.
The Council provides a range of training courses, many funded under schemes like Youth at the Table 
The UK is separated into 12 regions: East Midlands, East of England, London, North East, North West, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South East, South West, Wales, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber. Each hosts 3 annual conferences - known as conventions - which aim to promote and share good practice in Youth Voice work done by young people, including Members of Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors and Young Mayors.
Yorkshire and the Humber
The Yorkshire and Humber region consists of the Youth Councils of:
- Kingston upon Hull
- North Lincolnshire
- North-East Lincolnshire
- North Yorkshire
- East Riding of Yorkshire
Through the support of the Youth York Unit Yorkshire and Humber, an initiative has been established wherein each area elects a representative to the Yorkshire and Humber Youth Voice Steering Group, which meets a minimum of 4 times each year to co-ordinate regional youth voice work and to work on cross-boundary issues such as transport.
Since it began, the Council has been involved in international work which aims to develop awareness of international issues and action, and to represent the UK at international events
The British Youth Council works closely with the British Council to promote participation overseas. It is a member of the European Youth Forum and Commonwealth Youth Exchange Programme and cooperates with other National Youth Councils in European through the BBCplus cooperation of National Youth Council's in Europe.
- National Council for Voluntary Youth Services
- UK Youth Parliament
- National Children's Bureau
- The Prince's Trust
- Children's Commissioner for England
- The National Youth Agency
- Citizenship Foundation
- Children's Rights Alliance for England
- 'Some Truth About Youth' documentary (2008), British Youth Council
- 'Making Waves', The British Youth Council Annual Review 2008/09, p.2
- Charity Commission. British Youth Council, registered charity no. 1123224.
- Company no. 6226595. See also: Companies House
- https://web.archive.org/web/20110727024248/http://www.byc.org.uk/about-us/our-youth-led-networks.aspx. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011. Missing or empty
- "League of Young Voters".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Make Your Mark Results Report" (PDF). United Kingdom Youth Parliament. 25 October 2018.
- BYC International Archived 26 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine