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Listening to young people

One of the great things about Parliament not being in session is that I can spend more time visiting schools and youth groups and hearing what young people have to say about the world they will inherit from us.

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Some of the recent highlights was visiting West Blatchington Junior School and speaking at an assembly during their 'Aspiration Week'. And then next door to spend more time with primary students. I've visited here many times now and the young kids are so so well behaved, so engaged, and so lovely to spend time with.

I also recently went to Mile Oak Junior School to meet with their student council. They talked to me about the things on their mind and then grilled me with a series of questions. And tough questions they were too!

Then I got to speak to an assembly there and have the total pleasure of handing out prizes to students who had achieved literacy and numeracy goals. I simply couldn't believe how advanced many of these young students were.

To top it off I also had a visit from Edwyn Verall who is our local member of the Youth Parliament. Edwyn is thirteen and phenomenally articulate and insightful when it comes to the views of young people regarding the really big issues of our times. From Brexit to how we give more power to young people, the conversation was so energising for me.

I really can't tell you how much I enjoy listening, learning, and exchanging views with young people in our community. I am so aware that many are mere bystanders as our generation take decisions that their generation will have to live with for their whole lives. The way we collect tax, spend public money, do deals and break relationships with other countries and unions. All of these things affect opportunities and life-chances for young people, and yet the have no power to influence it.

Having spent so much time with our young people I have become their number one fan, and aspire to be their number one champion. I am firmly of the view that the voting age should be reduced to 16 so we can enfranchise the very people who our country now relies upon to solve some of the greatest challenges of any peacetime generation.

I wanted to write this post during the general election period because even though under-18's are unable to vote I want them to know that I've not forgotten them and I will carry on investing time, energy, and enthusiasm into listening to their views as much as anyone else who lives here.

If you have young people in your family, please ask them to read this and post or write to me with their views, I'd love to hear from them.

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