During half-term a number of students from Lancashire colleges completed a work experience programme in the office of Seema Kennedy, Conservative Prospective MP for South Ribble.
In addition to their session with Sajjad and other speakers, the students delved behind the scenes of a parliamentary election campaign, listened to guest political speakers and experienced different campaigning techniques. They were tasked with preparing their own manifesto for younger people, designed a leaflet for first time voters, held a debate on the controversial topic of fracking and created a survey on an important local issue that they then carried out on the doorsteps of voters of the constituency.
During the week the students also heard from speakers from different levels of political life. Cllr Margaret Smith, Leader of South Ribble District Council, Borough and County councillors, Cllrs. Michael Green and Malcolm Barron and Baroness Williams of Trafford.
Seema said, “I am delighted to have had the students come in to my office for the week and gain practical experience of an election campaign. Many people believe that politicians are removed from the general public and their concerns. If I become the Member of Parliament of South Ribble I will always listen to local residents’ concerns and engage with people as much as possible.
It is vitally important that we try and engage younger people in the political process and get them involved in deciding the future direction of South Ribble and our country. I hope that the students have learnt a lot during this week because I have certainly learnt a lot from them.”
The students are all studying politics at local colleges in South Ribble. One of the students, Harry, said, “As a first time voter at next year’s General Election this week has been a great learning experience. I want to thank Seema for giving me this opportunity. I particularly enjoyed the canvassing session and listening to Sajjad Karim speak about the European parliament.”
Lucy, another of the students, added, “This has been a fantastic chance to hear from some of the leading politicians in the local area and find out about how politics operates at different levels. This week has been a great experience for my future political studies and has shown the practical side to the theory we are taught at college.”
Sajjad Karim praised the initiative and wished that more politicians would run this kind of programme. “This was a great initiative by Seema Kennedy. It is so important to involve young people in politics and I'm sure they all learned a great deal during their work experience with her.
I really enjoyed my session with my young constituents. It was a real opportunity to hear about the issues that concern them and tell them about my role as a Member of the European Parliament representing the North West.
They asked some very astute questions and I hope I was able to clear up some of the myths about the European Parliament and the EU institutions.”
Note: Seema Kennedy is hoping to succeed Lorraine Fulbrook MP who is standing down at next year’s General Election.