On the 29th February and 1st March, a group of pupils attended the Convention of the North alongside pupils from 7 other schools in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester. Our pupils were invited into the centre of the event; each panel workshop started with a presentation from the young people and one of our pupils opened the second day of the Convention with a keynote address in the main hall to 800 delegates.

Our pupils engaged with powerful figures including MPs, Mayors, business leaders, third sector professionals, academics and policy stakeholders through policy presentations, questions and PoWEr Up networking sessions. They focused on negotiating change and asking for meetings to further their campaign work. The three key policy areas included Net Zero, People & Place and Transport for the North of England.

Our pupils have been working alongside Citizens UK chapters for several months to run a series of listening campaigns here at CMCS around the three policy areas, and to form their campaign asks ready to bring to the convention. The policies presented to the panels on the first day of the convention included Net Zero – asking policy makers to commit to working with young people to deliver more green job opportunities for young people in the North of England; People & Place – asking for funding for every school and college to have access to professional counselling to tackle the crisis in young people’s mental health; Transport asking for more frequent buses at the beginning and end of the school day, and that all policies under transport are poverty-proofed to better support marginalised people across the North.

On the second day of the convention, Eddie, one of our pupils who attended the convention, along with another pupil from a Leeds school, gave a powerful testimony on the changes they want to see from the senior officials at the convention. Eddie said: “It should be a requirement for all young people to have an acceptable standard of living, providing people with better facilities or giving funding to deprived areas so that young people can be happy and safe where they live.”

Our pupils then met with Tracy Brabin, Andy Burnham, Oliver Coppard, Steve Rotheram and Jamie Driscoll, as regional mayors in the north, and discussed their top priorities for change in the North of England. They asked all mayors to agree to meet them to discuss this further. They also had the opportunity to speak with various MPs, including Michael Gove MP Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Jim McMahon MP Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) to discuss their priorities. They hope to meet with them again in the near future.

We’re extremely proud of the pupils who were involved in this event as they showed confidence, maturity and compassion. We look forward to seeing how their ideas and discussions develop in the future.

Thank you Citizens UK for working with our pupils and providing them with this opportunity.

Photo Credit: Jack Bolton & Citizens UK