Cardiff Youth Council Members Shine at House of Commons

A Day of Impactful Debate

Two members from the Cardiff Youth Council recently made their voices heard at the UK Youth Parliament (UKMYP) sitting in the House of Commons. This important event provided them a platform to discuss national food-related issues affecting young people.

The Core Topics

The debate focused on five key topics: Holiday Hunger, Quality of Food, Standardisation, Financing and Funding, and Additional Pricing. These issues directly impact the daily lives of young people in the UK.

Cardiff’s Proud Representation

Our Cardiff Youth Council representatives, Shifa and Zack, both actively engaged in the debate, with Shifa also playing a pivotal role as a debate lead, highlighting her leadership skills and passion. This involvement underscores the importance of youth participation in shaping policies.

Making a Difference

The UKMYP’s vote on a motion to take forward marked a significant step in advocating for youth-centric policies. Our representatives’ active participation exemplified Cardiff’s commitment to empowering young voices.

Celebrating Youth Leadership

This event was a testament to the capabilities of young people in Cardiff, showcasing their ability to influence and lead on major platforms. As Cardiff continues to uphold its status as a UNICEF accredited Child Friendly City, such involvement is crucial in ensuring the rights of all children in our city.

A Battle of Ideas: Cardiff Youth Council and Cardiff Schools Illuminate Gender Equity in Final Debatemate Showdown


In line with Cardiff’s status as the UK’s first UNICEF accredited “Child Friendly City,” a great Debatemate tournament recently took place. The event engaged students from Cardiff Youth Council (CYC), Willows High School and Cardiff West Community High School in debates on societal issues, with a focus on gender equity. The pinnacle of this two-day affair was a spirited final debate on the motion: “This house would impose stricter measures against content that perpetuates gender stereotypes on social media platforms.” The occasion was further elevated by insights from special guests Nikki Giant and Sabiha Azad.

The Essence of Debatemate:

A forerunner in youth development, Debatemate aims to cultivate skills like effective communication, critical thinking, and teamwork. By fostering an environment for robust debate, students gain a more nuanced understanding of complex societal issues.

Who Stood on the Podium:

Proposition: Members Ffion, Aoife, and Malo represented CYC and Gwion represented Willows High School. Their articulate arguments underscored the youth council’s ongoing efforts to empower local youth.

Opposition: Students Fatima, Franklyn, Pamela and Jessica, from Willows High School exemplified the spirit of inquiry and debate nurtured within the educational system of Cardiff.

The Central Theme: Gender Equity:

All debates leading up to the final focused on various aspects of gender equity, culminating in the decisive final motion. The conversations around this theme were greatly enriched by our special guests, Nikki Giant and Sabiha Azad, who represented opposing views in the final debate.

Nikki Giant: A member of the Advisory Panel for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and founder of The Girl Lab, Nikki supported the proposition. Her experience added a layer of gravitas to the conversation.

Sabiha Azad: A Cardiff-based Change Maker with a focus on gender inequality, Sabiha took the opposition’s side. Her perspectives added complexity to the arguments, particularly with her background in anti-racism work and representation for Women Against Violence Europe.

A Riveting Finale:

The final debate was a high-stakes exchange of ideas, backed by research and ethical considerations. Nikki Giant, in alignment with the proposition, advocated for imposing stricter measures against gender-stereotypical content on social media. On the other side, Sabiha Azad, along with the opposition panel, offered a compelling counterargument questioning the implications of such measures.

The audience was gripped as Ffion, Aoife, Gwion and Malo from proposition and Fatima, Franklyn, Pamela and Jessica from the opposition went head-to-head. Both sides presented compelling arguments, making it a memorable finale that left a lasting impression on all attendees.


The proposition proposed that stricter measures should be imposed because of the following reasons:

Promotion of Equality: Stricter measures could help to challenge and change harmful gender stereotypes, promoting greater equality.

Protection of Vulnerable Individuals: Stricter measures can help protect vulnerable individuals, particularly children and young people, from being exposed to harmful content that could influence their views and attitudes towards gender.

Responsibility of Platforms: Social media platforms have a responsibility to ensure that their content does not perpetuate harmful stereotypes or discrimination. Stricter measures could hold platforms accountable for the content they allow to be shared.


The opposition didn’t disagree that gender stereotyping is bad, but they said stricter measures could have the following negative effects:

Freedom of Speech: Imposing stricter measures could be seen as a limitation on freedom of speech, as individuals may be censored or restricted from expressing their views.

Subjectivity: Determining what content perpetuates gender stereotypes can be subjective and open to interpretation. Stricter measures could result in the censorship of content that may not necessarily be harmful.

Critical thinking: Diminish people’s choice and ability to be able to critically think about information they may see on social media platforms.

They suggested that there should be other ways to improve/eliminate gender stereotyping through education.

What stood out?

Participants were split up into 5 groups and asked what subjects they covered over the 2 days stood out to them and what they think the council should prioritise for consideration. Each group were asked to come up with 3 subjects each. These were gathered in and then the whole group was asked to rank the subjects put forward, the following graph was the result:

Implications and Future Directions:

The event served as a microcosm for how discourse around complex issues like gender equity can be incorporated into the educational landscape. It offered valuable insights for the local authority on ways to adopt a children’s rights approach to education and governance.

CYC have three priorities that they are working on to improve outcomes and services to all children and young people across the city.

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Cost of Living
  • Gender Equity

As part of the Gender Equity work CYC will incorporate the findings from the Debatemate Final into their thinking when trying to make these improvements.


The Debatemate tournament was more than a competition; it was an enactment of Cardiff’s commitment to children’s rights and equitable society. It showcased how constructive dialogue, fostered by collaboration between educational institutions and experts, can pave the way for positive social change.

In a world often fraught with disagreement, Cardiff’s youth have shown us that nuanced debate is not a lost art but a vital tool in navigating our shared future.

For More Information:

For more information about Cardiff Youth Council, please contact or visit

For details about other children’s rights initiatives in Cardiff, please contact the Child Friendly Cardiff unit at or visit Child Friendly Cardiff.

Cardiff Young Change Makers

Child Friendly Cardiff have partnered with Plan UK (Wales) to launch a social action grant scheme for young people aged 13-25. Up to £1,000 in grants are available for projects aiming to create a gender equal Cardiff.

Yesterday, a young person assessment panel convened to assess the grant applications and discuss which project ideas they felt should receive the funding. It was an inspiring evening listening to project ideas led by young people who are passionate about improving circumstances in Cardiff.

The successful projects will be informed soon and will begin their journey of bringing their ideas to life. We can’t wait to hear about how the projects get on and the impact they are having!

Cardiff Youth Council meet with Cardiff Met Sport

In July, members of Cardiff Youth Council were involved in a process called Legislative Theatre. The process involved young people identifying issues relating to gender and showcasing these in a set of scenes. The scenes were then performed to senior decision makers and professionals who worked collaboratively with the young people to find resolutions to the issues identified.

Dawn Mitchell-Williams, the Head of Physical Activity and Health at Cardiff Met Sport was one of the audience members and, met with some of the young people last night to discuss the issues that they raised.

It was a great meeting of discussion about sport and how gender can impact young people’s experiences of being active.

Cardiff Youth Council are excited about the relationship being developed with Cardiff Met Sport and look forward to future collaborations!

Cardiff Met Sport Interviews

Yesterday, members of Cardiff Youth Council convened a Young person’s interview panel as part of the interview process for a new role at Cardiff Met Sport. The new role focuses on physical activity and sport available to children and young people, aged 3 to 18.

The young people interviewed some great candidates and enjoyed the day.

Thank you to @CMetSport for ensuring that our voices were listened to and we look forward to engaging with the successful candidate in the future!

Cardiff Committee of Experts

Who we are

We are a group of children and young people ages 10-25 who were asked to come together to evaluate the Child Friendly Cardiff (UNICEF) project from a children’s rights perspective. We represent a range of different organisations and forums, Cardiff Child Friendly Advisory Board, Cardiff Youth Council, Oasis, National Youth and Advocacy Service (NYAS), and Ministry of Life. We feel very privileged to be asked to scrutinise the evaluation report.  We were also delighted to be given the opportunity to invite Senior Decision Makers on Cardiff Council to a formal examination, where we were able to ask them some important questions in relation to the delivery of the Child Friendly Programme and the implementation of a children’s rights approach.

You can read what we did and our recommendations here:

Authored by: Children and Young People Expert Committee

Supported by Observatory on Human Rights of Children Dr Rhian Croke and Helen Dale.

Debate Mate

Message from Debate Mate

At its core, Debate Mate is an employability programme which aims to equip young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills and opportunities to secure meaningful employment. To do this, we set up and run after-school debating clubs in areas of high educational disadvantage, recruiting top university students to deliver our programmes while acting as inspiring role models and peer to peer mentors. Our transformative methodology, which uses debating as a vehicle to teach key 21st century employability skills, is proven to develop critical and creative thinking, empathy, resilience, leadership, teamwork and, above all, core confidence in the young people we work with. Over the past ten years, more than 65,000 young people have benefited from our programmes.”

We have been working with Debate Mate on a 2-day course at the Social Science Research Park – Cardiff University (SPARK) building. We have been learning new skills such as the basics of debating as well as more advanced work on generating arguments and rebuttal. We also covered a range of topics and motions including a final debate on gender equality in sports.

The Debate Mate mentors commented:

“All round, I saw all students participate and gain confidence throughout the day and they felt much more prepared and knowledgeable!” and that, “the students that had already done the program were acting as team leaders and were taking charge in the groups which was also nice to see.” 

During October half term we will be working again with the team to debate gender equity issues against pupils from schools across the city. This will help shape the work we do going forward, trying to help improve gender equity.

Here are some of things our members involved said:

Steffan says – “Vegan coronation chicken sandwiches were bangin.”

Jesslin says – “As a person who loves to debate, I found the workshop incredible! The programme was compressed of brilliant methods and techniques to improve our points during a debate as well as giving us things to look out for whilst opposing to other views. The workshop also provided us with several opportunities to practise these skills amongst each other, which was definitely a great laugh. On the whole, it was a fun and exciting experience that has really helped us all become great debaters!” 

Megan says – “From the beginning, Debatemate training was both extremely enjoyable and fascinating. Over its two days, not only learning about the workings of parliamentary debates but taking part in our own versions of them meant that I had alot of fun; I left the training feeling not only that I’d improved my skills in debating, but that I was sad that the two days were over. “

Rydym wedi bod yn gweithio gyda Debate Mate ar gwrs deuddydd yn adeilad Parc Ymchwil y Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol – Prifysgol Caerdydd (SPARK). Rydym wedi bod yn dysgu sgiliau newydd megis hanfodion dadlau yn ogystal â gwaith mwy datblygedig ar gynhyrchu dadleuon a thalentog. Gwnaethom hefyd ymdrin ag ystod o bynciau a chynigion gan gynnwys dadl derfynol ar gydraddoldeb rhywiol mewn chwaraeon.

Dywedodd y mentoriaid Discuss Mate:

“Yn gyffredinol, gwelais yr holl fyfyrwyr yn cymryd rhan ac yn magu hyder trwy gydol y dydd ac roeddent yn teimlo’n llawer mwy parod a gwybodus!” a bod, “Roedd y myfyrwyr a oedd eisoes wedi gwneud y rhaglen yn gweithredu fel arweinwyr tîm ac yn cymryd cyfrifoldeb yn y grwpiau a oedd hefyd yn braf i’w gweld.”

Yn ystod hanner tymor mis Hydref, byddwn yn gweithio eto gyda’r tîm i drafod materion cydraddoldeb rhywiol yn erbyn disgyblion o ysgolion ledled y ddinas. Bydd hyn yn helpu i lunio’r gwaith a wnawn wrth symud ymlaen, gan geisio helpu i wella cydraddoldeb rhywiol.

Dyma rai o’r pethau y mae ein haelodau yn cymryd rhan yn dweud:

Dywed Steffan – “Roedd brechdanau ieir coroni fegan yn bangin.”

Dywed Jesslin – “Fel person sydd wrth ei fodd yn trafod, roedd y gweithdy’n anhygoel! Cywasgwyd y rhaglen o ddulliau a thechnegau gwych i wella ein pwyntiau yn ystod dadl yn ogystal â rhoi pethau i ni edrych amdanynt wrth wrthwynebu safbwyntiau eraill. Roedd y gweithdy hefyd yn rhoi sawl cyfle i ni ymarfer y sgiliau hyn ymhlith ei gilydd, a oedd yn sicr yn chwerthinllyd iawn. Ar y cyfan, roedd yn brofiad hwyliog a chyffrous sydd wedi ein helpu ni i gyd i ddod yn ddadleuwyr gwych!”

Dywed Megan – “O’r dechrau, roedd hyfforddiant Trafod yn hynod o bleserus a diddorol. Dros ei ddeuddydd, nid yn unig dysgu am sut mae dadleuon seneddol yn gweithio, ond roedd cymryd rhan yn ein fersiynau ein hunain ohonynt yn golygu fy mod yn cael llawer o hwyl; Gadewais yr hyfforddiant yn teimlo nid yn unig fy mod wedi gwella fy sgiliau wrth drafod, ond fy mod yn drist bod y ddau ddiwrnod drosodd. “

Legislative Theatre Final Performance

Last night, members of CYC performed their Legislative Theatre performance to senior decision makers and engaged in conversations with them on issues relating to gender equity in schools.

It was great to see adults & young people collaboratively discuss barriers and solutions.

Thank you to all that took part in such an insightful conversation, including @Merryse235, @AshL93, @JulieSangani and @NikkiGiant for reflecting upon policy ideas created in the session.

We can’t wait to see the next steps based on the issues that the young people raised!

Legislative Theatre – Rock UK Residential

As you’re aware, Cardiff Youth Council has set up a Gender Equality Steering Group to explore experiences of gender inequality and what can be done within the city to improve this.

As part of this, the members of the Gender Equality Steering Group have been involved in a process called ‘Legislative Theatre’. It involves young people and decision makers working together in a creative process to identify, develop, and build support for new policy, helping to reduce inequality.

We have been creating 2 scenes which the young people are going to perform to decision makers. The young people decided to centre their scenes on barriers and issues young people experience concerning sport, with a focus on gender, based on their own experiences.

To ensure the young people could fully emerge in the process, we had a residential at Rock UK. We had a great time, not only in our legislative theatre rehearsal sessions but also through taking part in climbing, bouldering, and caving.

The Gender Equality Steering Group can’t wait to work with decision makers at the final performance, as well as ongoing, to achieve gender equity.


The role of scrutiny is to look at issues that matter to Cardiff residents, hold to account decisions made by the Council and drive service and performance improvements.​​

Scrutiny committee members monitor the Council’s performance and investigate areas of concern. They also hold to account Council decision takers and examine proposed strategies and policies. 

They check, and report on all areas of the Council’s work, including partnership work.

The committees ask questions, gather evidence and report their observations and recommendations to Cabinet, either by letter or in a report.

Cabinet then formally responds to the recommendations submitted. 

View more information in our Guide to Scrutiny document

View the Cardiff scrutiny annual report 2022/23

Cardiff Youth Council have members who sit on 3 of the 5 scrutiny committees:

  • The Children & Young People’s Scrutiny Committee
  • The Environment Scrutiny Committee
  • The Economy & Culture Scrutiny Committee

This is what the members involved say about scrutiny

Shifa Shahzad

Hello, my name is Shifa Shahzad-Khan. I’m 16 years old and the youngest member on Cardiff’s Environment Scrutiny Committee. Being in Scrutiny has taught me invaluable skills. The other members have all been welcoming despite my lack of experience, and I’m honoured to be the representative of the young people in the city. I’m aware that our interests can become overlooked, so I know how great of a responsibility it is to be the mouthpiece for young people all over the city – to represent all of their wants and beliefs. This experience will definitely be something I take forward with me for the rest of my life, helping me to gain confidence in speaking with adults and decision makers and giving me indispensable experience.

Overall, I’ve loved being a part of the Scrutiny Committee, despite being slightly out of my comfort zone, and I’m extremely grateful for all the help and training I’ve gotten. 

Emily Gao

Hello, may name is Emily Gao, 16 years old. I’ve loved every part if being in scrutiny for children and young people. It’s made me realise a lot. I would say it’s changed me as a person in a good way. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be on scrutiny. I couldn’t thank everyone enough for such a warm welcome to the committee. When I first started it was hard but the training I went to helped me so much with gaining confidence and being able to ask questions. It’s a huge role as a young person to sit there and have a say in all of this. As a young person I want all young people out there to have a say, to express how they really feel. At limes I feel the fear, I feel how big a role this is but if you want to make a difference you have to overcome those fears and that’s what I’ve done.

Zack Hellard

I would like to begin by saying that serving on the Economy and Culture Scrutiny Committee has been a great honour and the privilege of a lifetime. It has been wonderful to be able to represent my peers, to work with those in local government to ensure that the youth aspect is not forgotten and to learn more about the systems of the economy and culture that form the basis of our society.

Cardiff is, as always, a wonderful city to live, work and spend time within. I am glad to be able to bring meaningful contributions and ideas to the discussion surrounding the future of the city aiming to be the UK’s first Child Friendly City. This achievement will be a major step forward in protecting Cardiff’s position as a ‘City of Tomorrow’ which puts future generations at the heart of lifelong plans for change and growth.

Whilst some of the topics have certainly not been the easiest to debate and scrutinise, I am extremely thankful to every member of the committee for welcoming me with warm and open arms; particularly the Chair, Councillor Peter Wong, and Angela Holt, Principal Scrutiny Officer, for their continued support for youth engagement and ensuring each meeting is accessible irrespective of age. In this environment, I have been able to develop several abilities relating to the scrutiny process with help from all involved; including councillors and representatives from all political parties.

Several individual projects, notably those of the Velodrome and St. David’s Hall were particularly challenging; however, the scrutiny process addressed the concerns of citizens as well as those involved with the outcomes being extremely beneficial. These cases also inspired me further to research the great history of Cardiff, other ongoing projects and to work closer with the community on local concerns and issues relating to their areas; particularly those of street cleansing and education.

The actual process by informed individuals with expertise in decision making and the ability to scrutinise and question factors ensured the best options were available and clear before any final decisions are made; ensuring that the citizens of Cardiff receive only the best in social and economic developments and policy. Youth involvement has undoubtedly ensured that youth consideration is within all approaches made by Cardiff Council, and I am proud to have been that vessel for development- particularly in ensuring that projects with an impact on children and young people undergo a Child’s Rights Impact Assessment.

These contributions work for the people, ensuring that considerations for children and young people within our community are made. I am satisfied and reassured that Cardiff is on track to becoming the United Kingdom’s first UNICEF Child Friendly City with the assistance of every member of the council in aiming for this prestigious and worthwhile target.

I would also like to thank the Child Friendly City Cardiff team for the opportunity to represent Cardiff youth as well as support in dissecting the true issues facing the youth within the capital of Wales and beyond, ensuring that their interests are protected. This effort has also been enabled through my engagement with youth members of the community who are extremely excited to learn that their views are actively considered.

Looking forward to the next year of scrutiny, I hope to see the same levels of engagement as seen from 2022-2023 with an additional focus on working closer and more cohesively together as members of the same scrutiny board.