City Year’s Public Affairs team brought two volunteer mentors to the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences to tell politicians about the importance and value of youth social action. Here’s how they found it!
Gauri serves on Team Giants in the West Midlands and attended the Conservative Conference.
“I was thrilled to attend the Conservative Party Conference and raise my opinions in a way that would make a difference. Our mission was to get political support, because it is very important that politicians support educational charities like City Year UK- with the means and the support, we can change the whole world. Indeed, politicians supporting City Year are indirectly supporting the children themselves and leading them towards better futures.
“It was pleasantly surprising to see the amount of support we received from Conference and everyone responded very well to the selfie frame; which was very hilarious when carried by me, because I am a 5ft tall human carrying a 4ft tall selfie frame!
“Halfway through day 2 we attended a conference against Brexit which was held outside the actual venue. We were torn between attending the conference or leaving to attend another one as the room was packed, but we decided to stay. It was a great decision as we got a shout out from Justine Greening, who said she didn’t ‘get in to politics to fight Brexit but to help the fight for education inequality and the fantastic young people at the back like City Year volunteers.’ I was absolutely thrilled by the mention and I felt very proud of the cause I was supporting and will continue to support.
“The most important thing I learned was that politics is not all about fighting for seats in parliament and leading the nation, but it is about making social change and supporting the things that matter. I realised that it very important to support education charities like City Year and tackle the differences, so that every single child can get the best education possible whilst enjoying it.”
Durrain serves on Imagination Team in Greater Manchester and attended Labour Conference.
“I went to Labour Party Conference with a City Year Alumni, Chris, and our public affairs team. Our main aim was to promote City Year and introduce the local MPs to what we, as volunteer mentors, do in schools.
“We met a whole host of politicians from Sadiq Khan to Diane Abbott to Jonathan Ashworth! I also had a chance to watch a panel which included Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner where constituency members were called on stage to talk. The most chucklesome moment of the conference was being approached by people asking us for directions because our red jackets looked a lot like the t shirts of the Labour Party helpers- little did they know I was as lost as they were!
“Attending conference was important because education is the single largest priority for City Year, and having support from important lawmakers can help us achieve our goals and tackle inequality in schools. Schools not only help students learn new ideas, it allows students to connect with other students socially, emotionally and academically. No country can achieve sustainable economic development with a poor education system, and our weak outdated education system needs to be altered. If Bill Clinton could help promote City Year in America, could Jeremy Corbyn be the next politician to help us reach our goals in the U.K?
“The party conference helped me picture my political future. It was just after the conference where I got in touch with my local constituency and started helping them with campaigning. Getting involved with North West Young Labour made me realise that the journey ahead will be hard work but exciting. I remember hearing from one of the local MP’s from London at conference, and I quote, “I gave out leaflets door to door, and now I’m here!”.”