Five hot topics our writers took to Parliament
Last week, young speech writers from Bridge Academy took the stage at the Houses of Parliament to tell the world ‘this is what we care about’.
1. Gender Equality
Seniz was frustrated by gender inequality and women’s battle to earn the same as men. Annie was also angered by the inequality she sees in women’s football.
“Why is a woman seen to be more incapable than a man? I know there’s going to be someone out there thinking ‘I don’t get it, I don’t see a problem, women are already equal’. My answer to you is where are women equal? I may be able to work in the same department as a man but I will be losing thousands of pounds because I’m a woman.”
“Thank you to all the women out there for speaking out. I am not afraid to use my voice anymore. You are empowering me today and I owe it to you. Women we need to speak up for ourselves. Look at the #timesup movement. Slowly everyone’s truth comes out. We’re in this together, we can end gender inequality now.”
“When was the last time you saw a woman’s football match on TV? Women’s football is rarely on TV, all of men’s football is on TV. In PE I don’t get to play football because we have to play netball. Women don’t get as much publicity as men. Woman don’t get as much support as men. That needs to change because there aren’t enough opportunities for young girls to play and get to like football.”
2. Preventing Gang Crime
Glodi spoke up about gang crime and the devastating effect it can have on communities.
“I am here for the 50 young men who was stabbed in a week in April 2018. Gang crime is a repetitive cycle which stems from hatred, stabbings, revenge and postcodes. A cycle that will continue to take away the lives of many more innocent young men, which is simply shown in statistics. I believe there is more things we can do to deal with this situation.”
3. Arts Education
Lara spoke about how important arts education has been for her.
“How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to express yourself? With everything that is going on sometimes you just want to let go, really have some fun, forget about the stresses for a bit. It makes me feel like I have power and I feel safe. My safe place is when I am making music; wouldn’t you like your child to have that safety?”
4. Mental health
Joshua and Tyler Ann spoke on mental health and the pressure on young people today.
Joshua said, “How many people do you think have taken their own life in 2017? In 1997 it was 3,722 and in 2017 around 7,000 people in the UK and this is only 17 to 24 year olds. It is very shocking to see how the numbers of growing so highly in the last 20 years”
Tyler Ann said, “I believe there should be more government funding for mental health charities specifically for teens. Today teenagers are stressed and miserable. I believe it’s because the mental health help for teenagers is lacking.”
“Instead of giving children lectures we should try to understand them. GCSEs have become so much harder, therefore there is so much pressure to be perfect, so much pressure that suicide rates have doubled.”
5. Hackney’s Reputation
Edith spoke about her frustrations with how Hackney is portrayed.
“This month a journalist in The Times said that ‘Hackney is a dump and a war zone in East nowhere’. Violence, gang crime, stabbing, knives – well that’s a bit one dimensional. Hackney is the most diverse London borough and has been like that since the late 1980s. It hosted the 2012 Olympics and also many actors and actresses such as Idris Elba, Jocelyn Jee Eisen and Adam Deacon grew-up in Hackney.”
The group from Bridge Academy made the trip to the seat of UK democracy as part of the 10-week Speak Up programme in partnership with Parliament’s Education Service. Speak Up promotes young people’s confidence in public speaking and active citizenship. The programme is led by poet Keith Jarrett and funded by The Breadsticks Foundation, Driver Youth Trust, Arts Council England and individual donors. Bridge Academy is supported by UBS.
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Photos by the fantastic Tom Oldham.