Haverhill’s Toby Birch elected to UK Youth Parliament as MYP for West Suffolk!

Toby Birch, age 12, was elected as MYP (Member of Youth Parliament) on 5 March, at a special meeting of the Western Assembly of Youth (W.A.Y.). Toby presented his election manifesto alongside two other W.A.Y. representatives at the superbly organised ‘hustings’ at Samuel Ward school. All candidates showed incredible drive and passion to make a difference!

Toby, who put young people’s mental health at the top of his agenda, said he was ecstatic to have been elected;

“I’ve got to say, when I heard everyone else’s speeches I thought I’ve got no chance here because they were all so good”.

Toby and his elected deputy, Millie Ball, are now getting up to speed with details of their new roles. In the meantime, Toby is assuring young people that they will be listening and they will be getting things done!

“Even though we are young people we can still make a difference”

Toby was elected to address the mental health crisis in Suffolk, climate change & the ‘currciculum for life’ – all huge areas to take on! In our conversation Toby outlined some of his ideas for action:

“From a local point of view I will be contacting Head Teachers, school govenors and school trust executives to see if we can improve the curriculum for life, whether that’s better resources or making some kind of training course for teachers”. 

Toby, who will be working closely with his deputy Millie Ball, says he will be reporting back to W.A.Y. on their activities. He is planning to get W.A.Y.’s youth councillors involved to make sure that all young people’s views are heard ‘so that we can do what all young people want’.

We spoke a little bit about the corona virus and what young people can do right now to keep themselves in a positive frame of mind..

“We have things like whats app. We live in a digital age! We can use these things to keep in contact with friends and keep sociable… And if you’ve got issues we have the School Nurse texting service: 07507 333356”.

He also highly recommended the Source’s coronavirus advice and support page

Toby recognised that alot of young people might be feeling anxious right now;

We are all worried about the current climate. It is scary. But we can get through this together. We’re young people. We’re resilient, we’re creative and we can draw on those strengths”.

To give you a look into a few more of Toby’s priorities:

Toby is a massive advocate of school based mental health & “having more school nurses & school councellors that do low level therapy with young people”. He said he also believes it should be easier to contact school services to help more young people deal with mental health issues.

“We need more psychiatrists and psycholgists. We need to make career opportunities for that much better”.

“With the environment there are small local environmental schemes and as one of my counterparts said, small projects can be just as effective as large national ones. I think that we can introduce some small projects that will make a big difference to the people of Haverhill”.

Toby suggested community garden projects and putting living walls outside schools to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

Toby has promised to keep in contact with HAVE YOU! Expect termly updates on what the Youth Parliament is doing and details on how they’re helping to make life better for Haverhill’s young people.

Finally, Toby said that if he had a magic wand to make one change right now he would “get LGBT issues taught in PSHE”.

To keep up to date on Suffolk UK Youth Parliament: @SuffolkUKYP Twitter and Facebook

Or check out our VOICE section.

W.A.Y.’s big focus this year is the environment: pic of vertical garden or living wall