British Youth Council

British Youth Council (BYC)

Logo of the British Youth Council
Founded 1948 (1948)
Type UK charity
  • CAN Mezzanine

    49-51 East Road
    London, United Kingdom

    N1 6AH
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people

Jo Hobbs (Chief Executive Officer)

Anna Rose Barker (Chair)

Luke Thornton (Vice Chair-Finance)

Ife Grillo (Vice Chair-Campaigns and Communications)

Jake Pitt (Vice Chair-Participation and Development)

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.



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 amid tense international relations just after World War II.

The Sixties

In 1963, British Youth Council gained independence from the British Government and became a UK charity championing the opinions of young people.

From the late 1960s, British Youth 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.

The Seventies

In 1971, BYC organised the annual World Assembly of Youth event in Manchester where Prime Minister Edward Heath was the keynote speaker.

In the late 1970s, BYC elected David Hunt as chair (now member of the House of Lords) as well as Janet Paraskeva (now First Civil Service Commissioner) and Peter Mandelson.

BYC published the "Youth Unemployment: Cause and Cures" report, taking it to Prime Minister Jim Callaghan in Downing Street to discuss the issue of youth unemployment. 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.

The Eighties

The 1980s saw the British Youth Council hit increasingly difficult times. In 1987 BYC Scotland closed due to funding cuts by the Government at the time. In this period the British Youth Council also had its founding Foreign Office grant withdrawn due to the changes in international relations. However, the British Youth Council carried on and continued to do work continuing to promote local youth councils and was involved in the UK's signing of the historic UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Nineties

In the 1990s BYC worked with partners to start up and run campaigns to get young people registered to vote and on issues of young people's employment. British Youth Council 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.


Today BYC continues to build on its past. 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.[1]


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”[2]


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.[2]


The British Youth Council’s four values are recognition, equality, diversity and participation.[2]


The British Youth Council is led by young people for young people. Its 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 British Youth Council is a registered charity,[3] and a registered company limited by guarantee,[4] in order to enable the appointment of directors under 18 years old.


The British Youth Council has over 250 members including national youth organisations, faith-based groups, and organisations representing minority groups of young people. In addition, the British Youth Council supports a network of 620 youth councils and youth forums, also run by young people.



The British Youth Council is about the voice of young people - representing 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.

The British Youth Council set up with support from the House of Commons, the Youth Select Committee which in 2013 enquired into the national curriculum with 11 Young Members.

Volunteering opportunities

The British Youth 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.

Youth-Led Networks

The British Youth Council coordinates different youth-led networks such as the Local Youth Council Network, UK Youth Parliament & Young Mayors Network[5]


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 British Youth 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 British Youth Council founding member of the UK branch of the League of Young Voters. The League of Young Voters steering group consists of Scottish Youth Parliament, Northern Ireland Youth Forum, Bite The Ballot and the National Union of Students.


The British Youth Council provides a range of training courses intended to empower young people to make a difference. Many of these are funded under schemes like Youth at the Table.


Since it began, the British Youth Council has been involved in international work which aims to:

  1. Develop awareness of international issues and action
  2. Represent the UK at international events[6]

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.

See also


  1. 'Some Truth About Youth' documentary (2008), British Youth Council
  2. 1 2 3 'Making Waves', The British Youth Council Annual Review 2008/09, p.2
  3. Charity Commission. British Youth Council, registered charity no. 1123224.
  4. Company no. 6226595. See also: Companies House
  5. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. BYC International Archived April 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
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