News - Young people share passion for Europe

A group of students from Westwood College and Leek High School joined forces with students from Este and Bad Windsheim recently to decide, as young people, which two European issues are most important to them and to subsequently bring such issues to the attention of local MEPs.

Leek Twinning Committee planned the project with an aim of uniting young people from across the continent and, since September, the group of students have met on several
occasions. Local students who have participated in the project include Joe
Porter, Jonathan Williamson, Rhiannon Mathias, Rebecca Wood, Alex Milne,
Claudia Hulmes, Kyle Steele and Hannah Gordon.

Each of the five teams produced presentations during the morning session at Westwood, subsequent to over 50 students from Westwood and Leek High gathering at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Chamber for the afternoon debate, many of whom will be first
time voters in next year’s European Elections.

The event was made even more special as Baroness Susan Williams opened the debate and Leek Town Mayor John Fisher attended, each of whom closed the session.

The students with Executive Principle, Keith Hollins and local MEP Philip Bradbourn

The students with Executive Principle, Keith Hollins and local MEP Philip Bradbourn

Five issues were presented to the audience, ‘Immigration: Good or Bad?’, ‘Tackling Youth Unemployment, ‘An Equal National Minimum Wage For All’, ‘Wind or Nuclear Power?’ and ‘Public Transport’.

Chair Joe Porter commented “Friday’s fantastic debate demonstrated that young people in this country and across Europe do care about politics and want to engage in the democratic process. I would like to thank Baroness Williams and Councillor John Fisher for making the effort to attend our debate.” Interestingly, two prominent issues in current affairs at the moment, youth unemployment and public transport, came out as being at the forefront of the audience’s mind, these being taken to a ‘Question Time’ style discussion organised by the local students at Westwood College on 22 November entitled ‘Young People and Europe’. At the event, the students were given the opportunity to lobby local MEP, Philip Bradbourn on the issues and find out about the role of a Member of the European Parliament.

After the event Mr Bradbourn said “I was delighted to attend this event and I applaud the Leek Town Twinning Committee for organising it. As politicians, we have a duty to encourage young people to take an interest in politics as so many issues affect them. The students were particularly keen to discuss youth unemployment and public transport issues. Of particular concern to the students was access to the jobs market and I believe that we need to ensure that young people are given the best possible skills, matching the requirements of potential employers to ensure they are able to pursue a successful career.”

On Sunday 24 November, the students participated in the Leek Remembrance Services and laid a wreath on behalf on the Committee and local MP, Karen Bradley. After the services, the students met Mrs Bradley and the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Ian  Dudson.  During the evening, a celebratory social event was held at The Foxlowe Arts Centre which was attended by the students, the Twinning Committee members, Italian and German visitors and local Councillors. To mark the fantastic  achievements of the students, Helen Ratcliffe, Chairman of the Twinning Committee, gave everyone a certificate during a short presentation and said “This weekend has been a tremendous success. The students worked very hard to pull together the presentations for the debate and they had only met each other that morning. Three of the students, one from each of the three different countries, laid a wreath on behalf of the Leek Twinning Committee at the Nicholson War memorial, which was very poignant because many years ago the three countries were at war.”


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