Memorandum submitted by the British Youth
I am writing to seek your assistance as Chair
of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, to secure Foreign Office
support to reinstate the British Youth Council's international
As you are undoubtedly aware the British Youth
Council is the representative voice of young people aged 16-25
in the UK. Run by and for young people it represents their views
to decision makers and promotes the increased participation of
young people in society.
A significant area of BYC's work since its creation
in 1948 by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has been representing
the UK internationally on youth issues and building relations
with other national youth councils in the spirit of co-operation
and understanding. To undertake this huge and increasingly important
area of work BYC received a small annual grant from the FCO.
Unfortunately the previous Government withdrew
our international funding in 1994, which decimated our ability
to participate in international youth fora, exchanges, training
and lobbying. This not only wiped out BYC's international expertise
as the first youth led national youth council, but also severely
damaged the UK's reputation internationally by preventing the
UK from being represented at European, Commonwealth and United
Nations Youth Assemblies.
We are very keen to turn this situation around
and are looking to the Foreign Office to reinstate funding for
our international work. Our previous grant was £42,000 per
year, and enabled us to achieve enormous results.
I am aware of the enormous assistance you have
given the British Youth Council in the past, and would be very
grateful if you felt able to assist us in this matter. Perhaps
you could advise on how we could best go about securing Foreign
I would be delighted to meet you to discuss
this matter if you would so wish.
The British Youth Council is the representative
forum for young people aged 16-25 in the United Kingdom. Run by
and for young people it exists to represent their views to government
and decision makers, and promote the increased participation of
all young people in society.
The BYC membership consists of young people
from over 100 diverse national organisations including youth organisations,
trade unions, political parties, together with environmental and
religious groups, and some 400 local youth councils from across
the UK. It is currently leading the development of new youth platforms
in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Council of the Isles.
The British Youth Council is the official UK
representative on the European, Commonwealth, World and United
Nations Youth Forums.
The British Youth Council was founded by the
Foreign Office in 1948 as the British National Committee of the
World Assembly of Youth. It existed to promote global co-operation
against communism in the wake of the second world war.
The international role of the British Youth
Council has developed massively over those 50 years, often in
response to new priorities identified by the Foreign office. At
all times it has continued to fulfil its hugely respected role
as the UK's international ambassador for youth, and centre for
On the international stage the British Youth
Council has led the way in developing democracies and building
co-operation throughout the world, and over several decades has
built a first class reputation for the country as a whole.
The major international aspects of BYC's work
Represent the young people of the
UK at the European Youth Forum, Commonwealth Youth Forum and United
Nations Youth Forum.
Send youth representatives to European,
Commonwealth and United Nations Youth Ministers Meetings as part
of UK Government delegations.
Host international government visitors
to the UK, and providing seminars on young people in the UK.
Promote UK youth organisations internationally.
Provide training and expertise to
develop democracies in other countries.
Provide the UK government and youth
organisations with information and advice on European Union and
European Commission developments.
Lobby the European Union and European
Commission on behalf of young people and youth organisations in
Promote and co-ordinate the international
activities of the British Youth Council member organisations.
Develop training materials and events
to promote British young people's international understanding.
In spring 1994 in a cost-cutting measure the
previous government withdrew their funding of £42,000 for
the British Youth Council's international work. This virtually
wiped out BYC's international capacity, and despite massive efforts
to secure external sponsorship the British Youth Council is still
without funding for international activity.
As a direct consequence the UK is perceived
very badly on the international stage. International youth fora
work with powerful institutions such as the European Commission
and United Nations, and bring together tomorrow's leaders to promote
co-operation and understanding. Over the last five years the removal
of government funding for BYC, and therefore the absence of UK
representation has been widely noted and the country's reputation
The British Youth Council is still very capable
of achieving significant results on international issues when
it is resourced to do so. Prior to 1994 BYC managed to make the
small grant of £42,000 go a very long way. More recently
during the UK presidency of the EU, BYC secured a contribution
of £3,000 from the FCO, which they used to lever in additional
European moneys to enable them to run a major Youth Presidency
The British Youth Council are very keen to receive
international funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
to re-engage the work it carried out prior to 1994. In addition
they believe there are significant new opportunities, including
promoting pan-European co-operation and international development.
They are requesting funding of £45,000
a year, in the first instance for three years. This will be for:
Active participation in international
Building links and expertise with
other European National Youth Councils.
Partnership working with other not-for-profit
bodies, to build and promote opportunities for young people in
Developing international resources
for UK youth organisations.
Limited exchanges with other youth
councils, particularly in the EU and Commonwealth.
Meeting and briefing international
dignitaries hosted by the Foreign Office.