Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
Young people from across England are travelling to the LGA conference this week to stand on YMCA's soapbox and shar...
Young people from across England are travelling to the LGA conference this week to stand on YMCA's soapbox and share their views with councillors in a bid to make the conference theme 'communicating councils' a reality.

YMCA's Access All Areas: Connecting Young People With Politics 'soapbox' was successfully piloted at the major party conferences following concern over the poor turnout in the last election - where only 40% of 18-24 year olds voted.

The situation appears to be even worse for local government with a recent poll showing nearly half (47%) of 16-22 year-olds thought local councils had no influence on their lives. [Carrick James Market Research telephone poll]

YMCA believes young people do have clear opinions and are active on a range of political issues. However, voter statistics indicate a clear need for politicians to engage young people in the political process.

From the 'soapbox', young people will speak directly with councillors and opinion formers on local issues relevant to them including housing, crime, police, drugs and leisure.

Last year Peter Cuthbertson, 18, who attended the Labour party conference, he said;

'On my first morning, I found myself in the middle of a debate about ID cards with the MP for Tottenham. By the end of the second day, I had seen the almost the entire cabinet, been feet away from the prime minister, the German chancellor and the mayor of London, and had spoken to the health secretary and education secretary. I'd recommend this to anyone.'

The young people taking part in Access All Areas set the agenda for their presentations, however YMCA provides structured support and training to help develop ideas.

Cllr Laura Willoughby, the LGA equalities executive spokesperson on youth issues said;

'It is essential that communicating councils remember that young people need to be communicated with as well. Young people from YMCA's have travelled a long way to share their views on how councillors and officers could do this. This is an exciting and interactive stand that delegates should visit.'


While every effort is being made to provide training and support for the young people taking part, the views expressed and issues being addressed are solely the views of the individual speakers.

Access All Areas at LGA

- Access All Areas events will be held on Wednesday, 3 July at 10.30am. This will be based at the YMCA stand (P77, Purbeck Hall Foyer) at the Exhibition Hall in the Bournemouth International Centre.

- Videos made by young people will be shown on the stand throughout the conference.

- Access All Areas is the citizenship and participation project run by YMCA and the young people that we work with. We provide a variety of opportunities for young people from YMCAs to express their views to politicians and decision makers. YMCA aims to raise awareness amongst opinion formers about the need to include young people in the political process The YMCA provides holistic services for young people, including housing, training and youth work programmes designed to encourage the personal and social development of young people.


Last year 151 YMCAs in England reached over 1-million people from over 240 communities.

The YMCA is a worldwide Christian movement, committed to meeting the needs of young people regardless of their gender, race, ability, age or faith particularly at times of need by providing high quality programmes in 7 integrated areas:

- Personal & Social Development (enabling people to realise their potential)

- Housing & Homelessness (the YMCA is the largest provider of safe, supported accommodation in England for single men and women in the 16 -35 age range)

- Training & Education (life skills, vocational qualifications and job search for 250,000 people)

- Sport, Health, Exercise & Fitness (more than 50 activities available from 120 sites in England)

- Crime & Safety (prevention work, work with young offenders, ex-offenders and those in prisons)

- Parenting and childcare (the YMCA runs a variety parenting & childcare programmes designed to promote healthy parent & child relationships)

- Money & work (YMCAs run a range of programmes covering everything from budgeting skills to job placements)

- International (operating in 123 countries worldwide, the YMCA has more than 30 million members)

- Additional information can be found at

Laura Willoughby

- Cllr Willoughby is a member of the council executive committee on Islington Council and the LGA equalities executive spokesperson on youth issues.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.