Our first meet was all about the final preparation for our visit to the Houses of Parliament once we’d come back from the holidays. This was an occasion where we welcomed two budding youth reps from our secondary cohort – both of whom have showed aspiring political flair whilst being with MPlus. With the positive way they gelled into the fold, they’ll surely be joining the main group once their mentoring term has finished!
Please see below for some of the eclectic range of questions that were devised by one young person in particular – all are based on our manifesto, with a miscellaneous question thrown in for good measure. These were compiled with the express intention of posing them to local MP Ben Howlett:
- What can you do to improve mental health education in schools?; at my last school, they had one day a year dedicated to issues relating to mental health. This wasn’t enough. Could it be more regular – once a fortnight, twice a term?
- Could we teach mental health awareness at schools from year 6, the year before children enter secondary school? This can be a difficult transition especially for those with mental health issues and preparation before hand could be valuable.
- How can we improve transport from Bath to activities outside of the city? There is not enough space of some buses and overcrowding can cause problems for those who find larger crowds difficult.I once got on a bus with 36 people standing, when capacity was for 25].
- What can we do to improve security at youth clubs? How would you adapt to the situation of children who are banned returning uninvited and affecting the enjoyment and safety of others?
- I don’t always feel safe in Bath city centre. How can we help young people feel safer?
- How can we better help young people understand exams and better deal with the pressure that surrounds GCSEs?
- What will you [the MP] be voting for in the EU referendum and what does this mean for young people?
Then the big day arrived! We set off bright & early and headed up towards a sweltering London – 3 adults, 4 young people and a plan. The young people were mesmerised by the transportation system, and it seemed excitement levels had peaked before we’d even arrived at the Houses of Parliament. How wrong. On arrival we were ushered through the “airport style” security & greeted by a welcoming Ben Howlett, where we began the grand tour.
Taking us through the opulent, Gothic style chapel, we were reminded of some of the more macabre days of British history – the young people showed an encouraging interest and pitched in with numerous facts of their own! We then swiftly moved into the decedent House of Commons, where we heard all about the pomp & ceremonious side of the house & stood in awe at the gold gilded walls! The House of Commons then beckoned, where we heard all sorts of archaic stories and quirks to do with the various systems in operation – not a single moment did the young people’s interest dissipate. Result.
Then over to the riverside patio (members only) where the young people picked the brains of Ben with a Q & A session. This began with a quick overview of our manifesto and an outline of what the group wanted to achieve. The questions were well received and Ben was very receptive to our objectives – so much so that we’ve been invited to help him with input on some legislation he’d preparing to take to the Commons later in the year / early next. A big well done to all the young people that came, and all the ones that have played a part in making this happen.