• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

North East Connected

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Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 13.34.09Local leaders from both ends of the political spectrum have come together to offer students a lesson in life in public office.

Councillor Paul Watson and Councillor Peter Wood enjoyed a robust debate last week (Tuesday, March 8), covering the EU Referendum, what is needed to stimulate economic growth and devolution, as part of a Q&A that it is hoped will enhance Sunderland College students interest in politics, after feedback from young people showed they were keen to learn more about the local and national political landscape.

Coun Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and a member of the Labour Party, and Coun Wood, who leads to Conservative contingent of Sunderland councillors, both attended the event at Bede Campus, to encourage more young people to take an interest in politics.

Cllr Watson said: “Politics is not just for politicians, it is a matter for everyone.

“It’s critical that we engage the next generation of young leaders, particularly now as we are seeing huge political change with decisions being made by central government that will impact on the lives of future generations in the city.  It’s great to be able to speak to the next generation and hopefully inspire them to become more active.”

One of the students to attend the event was 19-year old Elizabeth Payne, who is studying for a Level Three BTEC in Business.  She said: “Today was a really good way to broaden our insight into local politics and it has definitely made me want to engage more with the political processs.”

Councillor Wood, who covers the St Michaels ward area of the city, said the event had been a good chance to talk to students and bring to life his role as a local councillor.

He said: “These young people are the city’s future and it is in the common interest of both parties that we get the next generation interested in politics and hopefully voting too.”

The event is one of a number of initiatives organised by the college to ensure that young people are developed as active citizens within their wider community and that they are provided with increased opportunities to engage with  industry professionals who can inspire and share more about their pathway into a range of sectors and roles.

Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive of Sunderland College, said: “It’s vital that our young people translate the skills they are gaining at college into the career choices they will make when they leave, and by arranging sessions like this, they can explore their options fully, as well as better understand the political landscape locally, and how they can actively engage with it.

“Our students’ feedback is always taken on board, and this was something they felt would be beneficial, so I am pleased to hear – from speaking to students – that they have taken something from it.  I am sure Councillors Watson and Wood were both able to take something away from their visit too, having had the chance to hear the views of our students – their electorate.”

For more information about Sunderland College, visit www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk

By admin