For the first feature in our new YouthAction series on ways young people can get involved in politics, we look to Model Westminster, an educational organisation founded by young Londoner Fifi Kara.
By Che Applewhaite ~ Editor
While Whippersnapper cannot attest to their effectiveness in carrying out these claims, since we haven’t been to one of their events ourselves, we can be sure that Model Westminster addresses something that is severely lacking in our national curriculum and therefore, Britain as a whole.
Founded by Fifi Kara, a 20 year old who was an undergraduate at LSE studying Social Policy and Government at the time of inception, she realised there was, and still is, a ‘great divide between politics and students and the portrayal of policy-makers’ which leave students feeling apathetic. And while we went on a URL-based path, she started to do something IRL . The organisation has become recognised very quickly, with Fifi being given a ‘Points of Light’ award by the Government, copied from the American scheme, to young individual volunteers who are making change in their community.
For Fifi, this encompasses London. As someone who has grown-up in London her whole life, moving to Croydon aged 11, she saw the value of working within communities as part of social development programs from the age of 16 for organisations such as National Citizens Service (aka the Challenge to all people taking GCSEs), the Living Wage Campaign, the Centre for Social Relations and the Bounce Back project, including a few others. Model Westminster is the first project of her own. The Editors of Whippersnapper can only be in awe at her proficiency as we have not done nearly as much social and policy work as her, though seeing what she has done kind of gives us a kick up the backside to do more for community.
Now back to Model Westminster;
How do they teach/interest/involve young people about and in politics?
|Attendees at last year’s event in front of the PM’s residence|
Policy School Next Gen:
Their main programme, held in conjunction with the Cabinet Office and Parliament Week, focuses on introducing young people to the policy making process.
You could be one of 150 students from across 15 London boroughs who come together over two days to develop skills in research, analysis, critical-thinking, team work and presentation whilst considering different implications for their hypothetical policies. The skills mentioned are the skills they think are necessary for political and social work, but incidentally, these skills are hardly provided by any one subject at school, so we think this course therefore seems very beneficial if you would like to develop them. Whippersnapper is always searching for events that develop political knowledge and skills so if anyone reading thinks they know one, please contact us!
That event happens once a year around winter time, but for year round work, Model Westminster has Student Ambassadors of which you could be one. They are looking for ‘ambitious and hard-working young people who care about the opportunities for their peers.’ i.e. people with some interest in social and/or political work. From reading their website, it seems enthusiasm is the main thing they want and they are accepting applicants, so applying seems a good idea if some of this makes sense to you.
Their role is mainly to be the ‘people on the ground’ gauging how young people can be engaged, in online, formal and informal settings; within schools and in Model Westminster itself. Their main roles during the courses are in helping coordinating and managing the event.
Model Westminster will be running a Policy School course later this year, so stay tuned on their website for more information on dates and its location. One important thing to note is that this event is only London-wide, so it will be in London.
For readers in other areas of the UK, we are looking currently for national organisations that get young people active and will write about them when we find any. Tell us of any you may know.