At 17, I am not yet able to vote. But I’ve got a role making a difference for young people in Burnley.
I’m the current Youth Member of Parliament: every district in Lancashire has one.
Our role is to represent young people, to make sure our voice is heard and to try and make things better for our age group.
It’s something I do on top of being an A level student at Burnley College, which I really enjoy.
I am studying law, sociology, critical thinking, religion and philosophy. I am also part of the debating society and on the student council at the college.
I went to Padiham Green Primary School. Of all the teachers there, my favourite was one who was a bit older than the others – she was nice and fair.
Then I went to Shuttleworth High School. The teachers I liked there were able to have a laugh with you at the same time as engaging you and inspiring you and getting you to do the work.
To relax, I watch Friends on TV and am a Harry Potter, Twilight and Doctor Who geek! And I still like watching Disney films. l love cooking even though I can’t cook myself! I made 100 buns which I sold in school. Other things I have done for charity include a sponsored silence, organising a raffle and wearing purple for a day.
Back to my role as a Member of Youth Parliament: MYPs are elected by young people who get involved with their local Youth Council. We meet most Monday evenings.
We’ve taken up issues of where young people have got a raw deal. We’ve been to the Children and Young People’s Trust with our ideas about tackling persistent absenteeism, or truancy. And we’re planning to take our messages about giving up smoking to head teachers. We’ve put forward ideas for improving personal and social education in schools, so that teenagers get really useful information on things like personal relationships and money.
I am getting signatures on a petition calling on the Government to provide further support to create employment, apprenticeships and opportunities for young people. Hundreds of young people have signed this and it’s being promoted across the North-West by a charitable youth project called Youthforia.
We need to make sure young people have the training and opportunities to get skilled jobs. My uncle used to work in aerospace making parts for planes. I thought that would be really cool.
As Burnley’s Youth MP I have taken part in a Question Time, shadowed Gordon Birtwistle MP and been to a national UK Youth Parliament. There were talks on how to get our voice heard from people like Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow.
My two-year term as YMP is up in February. Looking ahead, my plans are to do a university degree and maybe travel to different parts of the world. If anyone aged 13 to 19 is interested in being a Youth Member of Parliament, or going on Burnley Youth Council, they should contact youth worker Roger Inglis on 01282 420062,07789927978 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You get a lot more confidence, get chance to voice your opinions and make a lot of new friends.