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Citizens UK Northern Chapters bring 64 young people from Eight Schools to the Convention of the North

Citizens UK Northern Chapters bring 64 young people from Eight Schools to the Convention of the North

On the 29th of February and the 1st of March, Citizens UK Northern Chapters in West Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool worked together to enable 64 young people from 8 schools in Leeds, Bradford, Newcastle and Manchester to attend the Convention of the North and deliver asks on three key policy areas. This year, the convention put together a manifesto for the North in advance of the general election later this year.

For the first time, young people were invited into the centre of the event; each panel workshop kicked off with a presentation from young people and two students opened the second day of the Convention with a keynote address in the main hall to 800 delegates.

The team of young people 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.

Students engaging with business leaders at the PoWEr Up networking event.
Jack Bolton
Students engaging with business leaders at the PoWEr Up networking event - Credit, Jack Bolton

The students from schools across the North of England (including Dixons Academies in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester, Carr Manor Community School in Leeds, Belle Vue Girls Academy in Bradford and St Thomas More Catholic High School in North Shields) had been working alongside Citizens UK chapters for several months to run a series of listening campaigns in their schools around the three policy areas, and to form their campaign asks to bring to the convention.

Policy asks presented to the policy panels on the first day of the convention included:

Net Zero: 

Asking for 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.


Asking for more frequent buses at the beginning and end of the school day for schools across the North of England, and that all policies under transport are poverty-proofed to better support marginalised people across the North.

On the second day of the convention, over 800 attendees heard powerful testimony from two students; Eddie from Carr Manor Community School in Leeds and Chiedza from Dixons Unity Academy in Armley, Leeds, on the changes that they wanted to see from the senior officials at the convention.

“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.” Eddie, Carr Manor Community School, Leeds

Eddie and Chiedza speaking to 800 delegates.
Jack Bolton
Eddie and Chiedza speaking to 800 delegates. Credit: Jack Bolton

"BAME teenage girls need more non-for-profit organisations for maternal health to come from council funding, and they need acknowledgement. Around 20% of young people have access to drugs and alcohol, leading to misuse; smoking in pregnancy rates are higher in Leeds than national rates and are significantly higher amongst girls who are under 18 years of age at the time of delivery." Chiedza, Dixons Unity Academy, Leeds

The students 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.

Students meeting Andy Burnham and Tracy Brabin.

Students also got the chance 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.

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Posted by Sylvie Pope on 8 Mar, 2024