By Laura Finn
Taking part in Afzal’s first Young Leadership programme was truly amazing, I don’t think any of us could have predicted the extent and range of experiences we would have. From the Royal Courts of Justice, to Parliament, to ITV studios and everything in between, we were shown how important good leadership is in all areas of our society. To me, it is hugely important for young people to speak up and be heard in a system that often seems as though it isn’t listening. This sentiment was validated and encouraged consistently throughout this programme and for that I am hugely grateful.
What was really special was the enthusiasm each of the many speakers who talked to us had. They were all hugely inspirational and were sure to answer all the many questions we had for them- there were a lot! Without this programme I don’t know when or if I would have been in the position to meet these people or even have the confidence to engage in the discussions that we had.
My personal highlights of the programme were our visit to ITV studios, Parliament and the Royal Courts of Justice. I have always been very interested in the role media plays in politics and visiting the ITV studios only furthered this. It was great to meet with Hannah Miller, the Political Reporter for ITV Granada, and Lucy West, the Head of News for ITV Granada. It was great that they wer eager to hear what we had to say, specifically in terms of what we thought ITV Granada Reports should be covering, especially in terms of young people. They also advised us how to effectively convey these ideas to big media institutions as well as the public.
Although I had previously understood the importance of the justice system in politics and society, I never had a keen interest. However, after listening to the senior presiding judge of England and Wales, Lady Justice Macur, I became far more interested and I have since looked further into career opportunities surrounding it. Moreover, Lady Justice Macur was extremely encouraging when talking to us, galvanising us to take every opportunity that came our way, but more importantly to create our own.
Visiting Parliament was an almost surreal experience. Listening to high-profile political figures from both sides of the house such as Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Rayner, Dawn Butler and Nusrat Ghani (to name a few) was enlightening. They each took time out of their busy schedules to talk to us and answer our questions (some were more straight-forward than others!). They were all also extremely encouraging and made Parliament- which once seemed a daunting and unattainable institution, seem inviting and welcoming for young people.
I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity and meet everyone else who took part; I cannot thank Afzal, Josh, Anisa and the rest of his team enough!