My first trip to London and it's off to Parliament

Thursday 12 March 2015

One Tuesday recently I left the comforting sight of the grey Yorkshire skies, and went to London for the first time. I had a fantastic late morning/early afternoon seeing the sights with my lovely cousin, time passed us by very quickly and before I knew it the Westminster chimes were going off above my head and it was time to meet up with Lydia, Mark and Chloe from Young Women’s Trust to attend the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Youth Affairs meeting.Chloe M  March 2015

It was also the first time I had been to anything like an APPG meeting and I had no idea what to expect, how many people would be there, or even how the meeting would be structured. Upon entering I was given a sheet of paper outlining the discussion topics with a couple of proposed Lib Dem policies underneath the theme titles. The lady chairing the talk was Labour MP Julie Hilling, she did a fantastic job at getting everybody engaged, (I’m sure its hard work holding 50+ young people’s attention), and set the atmosphere perfectly. The Lib Dem representatives were President Baroness Brinton (or “Just Sal” as she specifically asked to be called), Alex Harding Chair of Liberal Youth, and Simon Wright MP for Norwich South.

After the introductions and all the formal stuff we got stuck straight into a discussion, different topics of discussion were placed at different stations around the room, and we sunk our teeth into democracy- more specifically, we discussed the House of Lords and how it works. Next up, questions were being fired thick and fast to the MPs from representatives of other organisations. Some really important issues were raised - from the destruction of Legal Aid and how it has unfairly discriminated against young people, the concept of free school meals (and what we’d actually be feeding the kids), and the housing crisis.

A lot of questions had the common theme of education- Simon Wright spoke with compassion when describing the clear inequality in education between poor and rich children- an issue I value highly. Inequality was also a common theme and my own question was regarding gender inequality in relation to being NEET (not in education, employment or training). Both Sal and Simon agreed young women may need different support than young men, and should be assessed for what support they need on an individual basis. There were other great ideas flying around such as investing in more women-focused apprenticeships and encouraging young women into careers typical of men, such as engineering and science.

Another important message I took from the evening was Sal speaking very passionately about getting involved with politics, especially women, and describing how she had a fantastic role mode in her Suffragist cousin, encouraging us to be great role models - very inspiring stuff.

I had such a fantastic time, London wasn’t bad at all! (I was expecting something completely different to the reality). The whole experience was completely different to anything I’m used to, as you can imagine there isn’t much opportunity for events like these in smaller towns. I had a great day and would like to thank Young Women’s Trust for the opportunity, as well as my cousin Ryan who took time out of his very busy uni schedule to babysit his big cousin!