The Big Issue’s Wellbeing Week is letting young people from across the UK quiz MPs about their future. Big Issue co-founder Lord John Bird and Green MP Caroline Lucas believe it’s time to put the young people first, and their Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill, aims to enshrine that belief in law.
Central to the Bill, which was due to go through its second reading in Parliament, is idea that the Government should work to prevent problems such as climate change and poverty, not just deal with the outcomes, and give current and future generations a voice in decision-making. And this week, young people from the age of 16 to 30 will be asking MPs what is being done to protect the generations to come.
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But it’s not just adults and teenagers whose voices are important.
In the run-up to Wellbeing Week, The Big Issue partnered with climate group Parents for Future who wrote to schools in England, asking for their input on the Future Generations Bill, so children could express themselves and their views about their futures.
Children urged ministers not to put their futures at risk and take action on pollution, global warming and deforestation. The Government was also asked to make the world a better place for the poorest in society.
Read them for yourself below.
Please try not to drop litter! The sea gets littered in and the animals eat it.
I love animals. We should be equal with money. Food should be equal.
Trees are really important and should not be cut down because they give us our breath!”
“Dear people of Earth, grown-ups and politicians,
I am writing this letter to tell you that I know loads of people love and respect this world. But lots of people don’t really care and just dump their dirty rubbish on the ground.
About 80% of rubbish gets thrown into the sea and many animals get caught in it or mistake it for food. We endanger animals so let’s stop! It’s sad that there is this much pollution and deforestation.
It’s sad that there is this much pollution and deforestation.
Cars produce loads of pollution so my advice is to go on buses more. After that, you could maybe decrease the price of electric or hybrid cars because not many people can afford them.
That brings me to my next thing. I hope you are all enjoying sitting in your big houses but many people don’t even have a house so you should give money to people in need of it.”
Isla Stockwell, 11
“Take me seriously.
Don’t listen to me and then dismiss me. Actually understand me. This is what I want you to know: Climate change is real. You must understand that without our wonderful earth we are lost. Again, I am another child saying this, another child.
You can say that you “understand” we children want to be “involved” with the climate crisis too, but you do not understand.
We are only doing this because the adults, who are supposed to know what to do, are ignoring this emergency. We know we don’t have all the solutions, but there is a line between not even trying to find a solution and asking the children, who had no hand in creating this, what to do.
The children are doing this because you have got us into this, and are ignoring the mess you have left us to deal with.
This crisis will affect the poorest first and the richest last. The poorest being people who had almost no hand in creating this crisis.
So if you care, show it. And the only way to show it is by taking us seriously and taking action.”
I am writing to you because I’m concerned about our future and the life we’re going to live. The same life that you and many before us and wrecked!
Even though we are all just children, we still have a message for all you adults. I think that it would be better if children ruled the world because all children, including me, are capable of making the world a better place.
“I think that it would be better if children ruled the world.”
If you think about it, who are the people who drive cars and pollute our air? Adults! Who are the fat cats that act as if they rule the world when actually children do? Adults!
Plus, if children ran the world then Covid-19 would have never happened. All this lockdown and quarantine wouldn’t even exist.
Until it is children that rule the world, please look after it for all of us. At this stage children across the whole entire world are worried that there will be no world to rule once we get our go.”
Please can you stop making plastic because it is harming animals. Plastic can trap animals throats and block their tummies.
Toothpaste and toothbrushes also have plastic in them, but I have a solution.
We could make a toothpaste that kills the germs as soon as it touches it, so we can swallow it! We could also have algae-based bottles which you can eat after use. I like the idea of eating things.”
Piles and piles of plastic are building up each year. Plastic takes over 400 years to decompose so there is lots of time for animals to eat it, causing them to suffocate.
We keep on telling you to stop but you keep on ignoring us. Now help us before it is too late.
Our world is changing rapidly due to climate change and it is our fault. I ask in the politest way to stop. Do you want your children and grandchildren to live in a world where they do not feel safe?
Do you want your children and grandchildren to live in a world where they do not feel safe?
Animals are dying due to this and many are going extinct. It is our fault, our ideas, our destruction.
It is us who is making the world worse. We need help now.
The beauty of the sea is going. Coral reefs, fish, turtles are all dying. Oil tanks spilling, plastic dumping, it is all us.
Now I need to ask you: Will you do anything? Plastic is taking over, our world needs help. We are all in danger.”
Alice Rose Little
“Dear prime minister,
I am writing to address you on our environment. We are living on the edge and we need to act now. And fast. Our planet is dying because every day we use man-made material and plastic.
It is going into our oceans and killing our sea creatures, for example, turtles. Their mothers lay 100 eggs at a time and on average two to three eggs usually survive. But now, because of plastic, only one or even none survive.
One thing that I have noticed is children are leading debates and standing up for our planet. We should all be taking responsibility for it. I know you have had a lot on your mind with the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse.
I know you have had a lot on your mind with the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse.
A long time ago, some people set global goals. We’ve learnt about them at school. I noticed that one of the goals was to look after the planet. As prime minister, you need to do this, otherwise we will have no rainforests, no seas and no animals. It would be horrible.
I want our future generations to not have to worry about plastic.
Here’s a poem I wrote about plastic:
Ice caps are melting
Sea creatures are dying
We need to stop now
Or else we will have nothing.”
The Big Issue’s Today for Tomorrow campaign aims to tackle the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. Support the Bill by emailing your MP today: bigissue.com/today-for-tomorrow/
This article has been updated to reflect that the Big Issue partnered with Parents for Future to hear from children across the country.