Getting young women on the political agenda!
In April, I made this mad decision to email the Participation Manager at Young Women’s Trust about an idea that popped up somewhere (residential? AGM?). Meeting your local MP and talking about young women/mums NEET!
I’d met my local MP, Mr Gareth Thomas (London mayoral candidate as well!) a couple of times so this should be a walk in the park right?
Hmmm...First I had to write an email/letter which I managed with the help of the Head of Campaigns, introducing myself and talking briefly about the latest report. I got a reply the next day to come to his office to talk. 19th June at 10am, booked!
And that's when my panic set in! I had no problems meeting him before but that was to voice my personal issues! This appointment was something else because I had to represent my fellow young mums/women! Knowing that the Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, Carole Easton was going to come got me more nervous! However the YWT team were reassuring me and were very supportive!
The day came for me to face my local MP with Carole. After my 'opening speech', Mr Thomas said that this was an issue that he never thought about (strike 1: we made him aware). Carole then explained what YWT does and discussed the findings from the 'Scarred for Life?' inquiry. She mentioned that there is no specific data available about the number of young women NEET in each area, and he said he would ask a question in parliament (strike 2: making the government aware).
I got to talk about my experience and why I was there. He asked how he could help and I initiated an idea of providing courses in local colleges with skills that match our labour market. He told us that he will write to the 2 biggest employers in my locality (strike 3: taking action immediately!).
I also focused on the large Asian community that my area has and touched on childcare and how people are not aware of what free courses there are on offer locally. I also added the few projects I am initiating in Harrow for young people and mums (strike 4: high level personality supporting my projects!). Carole also mentioned how young women/mums avoid voting! (Strike 5: always mention this and watch the reaction).
Mr Thomas was shocked to know that most of us avoid voting because we are always brushed under the carpet. This then motivated him to target our group and also invite me to join in on constituency meetings to help raise awareness and help grow confidence in fellow young mums/women (DOUBLE STRIKE).
It was quite a meeting and I finally breathed out the breath that I was holding in as soon as I entered his office. I was glad to do it because that is now 1 more MP (and potential mayor) who knows about us and will work alongside us to tackle this growing issue (STRIKE number... I lost count!).