Local ideas, local skills, local solutions

Fact finding mission to Parliament for children from Big Local DY10

The photograph was taken in a committee room in the Houses of Parliament with M.P. Mark Garnier between St Oswald’s pupils on the left and St Mary’s on the right. From left to right they are: Jasmine Richardson, Hannah Telling, Georgia Frater, Sophie Pegler, Sean Branford, Jayden Spicer, Mark Garnier, Leah Evans, Joshua French, Chelsea McGee, Tyler Wilkes, Tyler Trow and Kyle Wilkinson.

Early on a cold, frosty morning in November 2013, 12 local school children boarded the train from Kidderminster bound for London and an exciting day in the capital. A full programme was ahead of them including a visit to the Houses of Parliament as the guests of Wyre Forest M.P., Mark Garnier.

Some of the young people made a comic about about their trip. View comic.

As part of the BigLocal DY10 project, a school’s parliament is being established and these children from St Oswald’s and St Mary’s schools and residents of the BigLocal DY10 area, were on a fact finding mission as ambassadors for pupils of all the schools within the area which covers the Horsefair, Broadwaters & Greenhill communities of Kidderminster. By seeing how Parliament works and introducing young people to the concept of government, the aim is to create a positive impact on the area in years to come, raising the aspirations of all the young residents as they realise that they do have a voice and can shape and change their area.

On the way to the Houses of Parliament the group stopped for lunch in Jubilee Gardens, in the shadow of the London Eye where they were met by the chair of the Local Trust, Kevin Sugrue and the Local Trust communications and learning co-ordinator, Leila Wong. Local Trust works closely with Big Local areas and partner organisations to support residents to help them make best use of Big Local and their funding.

Kevin Sugrue said:

“It is fantastic to see this level of enthusiasm from young people to get involved in improving life in their area. Big Local is about the whole community saying and influencing what changes should be made locally. Developing a youth parliament is a brilliant way of providing an ongoing platform for young people to stay involved.”

Next stop was Downing Street, to peer through the security fencing at the famous Number 10. Some of the children were convinced they had spotted David Cameron entering No. 10 but none of the adults had such eagle eyes! After this it was on to the Houses of Parliament, through airport style security to the central lobby to meet M.P. Mark Garnier. The children marvelled at the architecture, stained glass windows, statues and paintings as Mark Garnier took them on a mini tour to a committee room where they sat and ‘grilled’ him for 90 minutes with questions ranging from the bedroom tax to electricity costs. Twice during this time, a bell was rung calling M.Ps. to vote and Mark Garneir had to dash off, only having eight minutes to register his vote. The visitors certainly had an inside view of democracy in action!

Mark Garnier commented after the visit:

“It is extremely important to engage our young people in the political process and to ensure that they are educated about parliament and the role of their MP. The children from St Oswald’s and St Mary’s were able to raise some very important issues and it was fantastic to see so many of our young people engaging in politics and really thinking about issues that effect their area.”

The very successful day was not all work! The group were thrilled to go on the London Eye and have an amazing view over their capital on a clear, crisp day. For the children, the day had been packed full of memorable experiences; many had not been to London before nor had they been on a tube train. They spent the return journey chattering about what they had learned and would be sharing with their schools, and how they can implement changes to their neighbourhoods through the school’s parliament.

All of the children who attended behaved exceptionally well. They were fine ambassadors for their schools, Kidderminster and the Big Local DY10 project, earning positive compliments from fellow train travellers.