Young Ambassadors Amira and Phoebe question politicians

Posted by Amira and Phoebe / Wednesday 01 April 2015 / Mental health Participation

Action for Children Ambassadors, Amira and Phoebe, recently did some ‘door knocking’ at the Department for Education. Along with young people from The Children’s Society, NSPCC and Save the Children, they have been meeting MPs from across the political parties to ensure children’s voices are heard during the general election. Amira and Phoebe met the (then) Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan and Schools Minister David Laws, to grill the politicians about issues that matter to them. Here’s what they thought about the experience…

Amira

On Wednesday 26th March I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a meeting with MPs in London to discuss issues affecting young people. Catching the morning train to Paddington along with Phoebe and Nikki I was a little apprehensive as to what to expect. Prior to the visit I had done some homework on the MPs we were meeting - David Laws Minister for education and Nicky Morgan Education Secretary.

On arrival at Whitehall, we were immediately put at ease by the head of media who shared with us some humorous tweets and I began to relax and look forward to the forthcoming meetings.

Nicky Morgan MP was first to speak with us. Nicky came across as very sincere and gave the impression she really cared about the issues raised. Many areas were discussed and she seemed especially passionate about the subject of mental health and improving things for young people.

After our initial meeting, we took a short break before meeting with David Laws MP. David again was very accommodating and made us feel welcome and valued. It was interesting to hear views from others, and at the end David happily posed for a selfie with me, something I later found out he hadn’t heard of until that day!

With the General Election looming, now would be the best of times to have our voices heard as each party is looking to show how they view various issues. Parliament is keen to hear more from young people and give them a voice in matters affecting them, which can only be a positive thing.

It is clear that an awful lot of work needs to be done to improve what is, at present, a failing service to support young people’s emotional and mental health. What is also clear is that changes are not going to be made overnight.  It’s taken a year to get into the state it is currently at, so I fear improvement will be for the long haul. With the support and backing of MPs who have sat up and listened to concerns, I am sure that those small steps will gather pace and hopefully, those who require the service will start to see an improvement.

Young people are extremely lucky to have charities such as Action for Children. They work tirelessly for the betterment of others, give opportunities which otherwise wouldn’t be possible and help young people grow and develop. 

Without them, many young people would not reach their full potential or be who they are today.

Phoebe

I felt very anxious from the day before up until the actual meetings with the MPs. My question for both of the MPs was about the protection and promotion of mental health and wellbeing in schools.

I would like to believe that the question I asked helped (even just to let them know that young people like myself were concerned about the subject of mental health and school) to prompt the announcement Nicky Morgan made (the day after me and a few other young people from different charity organisations met with her) about the new PSHE lesson plans that would span across key stages 1-4, teaching more about mental health and wellbeing (http://schoolsweek.co.uk/nicky-morgan-reveals-new-support-for-pupils-with-mental-health-problems/)

After meeting the MPs I felt more confident, and hopefully more opportunities will arise for other young people and also give them more confidence as well.

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