This year I started my Young Leadership Programme, with the idea of making it an annual programme for the young people of Manchester to get a taste of politics, campaigning, civic life and how the media interacts with politics.
I know from my own constituency of Manchester Gorton, which has a concerningly high poverty level, how this programme could help provide an opportunity for participants from a disadvantaged socio-economic as well as BAME backgrounds to gain confidence and skills. I am a firm believer that your socio-economic status should not determine your future success and the opportunities you receive. Despite my working-class background, I became the first Muslim Lord Mayor of Manchester and I am the first British Muslim to hold a position in the European Parliament as well as the UK Parliament, an achievement which I am proud of and, I hope can inspire the youth.
This programme aimed to teach participants key leadership skills and help equip them for their pursuit of a career in leadership. Activities over the four days included a visit to the Town Hall, meeting the Lord Mayor and councillors, public speaking workshops, union visits, and a day trip to Parliament. The day trip to London kicked off with a visit to the Royal Courts of Justice, where participants were treated to a tour and Question and Answer session with the Senior Presiding Judge, Justice Dame Julia Macur. Our participants then had the opportunity to meet with senior political leadership in Parliament, with insights from the Shadow Cabinet, including Angela Rayner, John McDonnell and Baroness Chakrabarti.
We ended our day with a Q&A session with senior Parliamentarians, from both sides, including Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani, as well as David Lammy, Baroness Chakrabarti, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell and Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn!
Our participants learnt some important skills and lessons during the week, including the lack of diversity and routes into politics for people who don’t fit the sterotypical mould of a politician, the importance of collective action and how to achieve change, at a local, regional and national level.
Participants graduated on the Friday 14th June, providing a fantastic opportunity for participants and their family and friends, to reflect on their hard work and achievements. I genuinley hope to be able to work with these young people in the future and see them become the successes I know they can be.