Hammersmith & Fulham’s member of youth parliament spoke passionately about combatting racism in the House of Commons, representing the borough’s young people as they helped decide next year’s manifesto.
Last Friday, Rahima Begum, 18, who is part of the borough’s youth council, helped choose the top issues which will be the focus of the UK youth parliament’s manifesto for 2016-17.
“I think it’s so important for young people to get involved in politics. These issues affect us all,” Rahima says.
Working together to combat racism and religious discrimination was chosen as the UK youth parliament’s national campaign. Mental health was chosen as the priority campaign for England.
This echoes local priorities. A recent survey by H&F’s youth council to gather the views of more than 6,000 young people showed racism and extremism, the living wage and child poverty to be the top three issues.
“Once again, Rahima and H&F’s youth council have shown how attuned they are to issues facing young people and their work within the borough is invaluable,” says Cllr Sue Macmillan, H&F Cabinet Member for Children and Education.
“Their passion for politics and their work to improve the lives of young people is an inspiration to us all.”
A total of 279 members of youth parliament aged 11-18 took part in the debates, the subjects for which were voted for by 969,992 young people across the UK in the youth parliament’s annual Make Your Mark ballot.
Rahima, of White City, was the first backbencher to speak after the debate on racism and religious discrimination was introduced.
“I was nervous, especially being the first speaker,” she says. “I was shaking but I was able to get my point across about an issue I care passionately about. It’s such an important issue with everything going on in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and the debate was the same day as the Paris attacks.
“Everyone should know there are a youth parliament and a local youth council. Why not see what it can do for you? I have made so many friends and want to study politics at uni, never in a million years would I have thought that before.”
The session on Friday was chaired by the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, and other issues debated included the living wage and transport.
To find out more about the work of the youth council, including how to get involved, email Brenda Whinnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 020 8753 6232.
Exciting challenges for young people continue this week as more than 150 young people help plan events, catch rogue traders, patrol with the parks police and much more as they take over H&F Council for the day.
The 13 to 19-year-olds will be getting a taste of potential career prospects as they take on tasks across the council on Friday 20 November.