Redbridge Youth Parliament members debate in Westminster

Bridget Okhioigbe in the Youth Parliament in Westminster

Bridget Okhioigbe in the Youth Parliament in Westminster - Credit: Archant

Two Redbridge pupils were among 299 youth parliament representatives from across the country who took over the House of Commons on Friday to debate issues that most mattered to them.

Bridget Okhioigbe, 15, from Palmer Catholic Academy, Seven Kings, and James Edwards, 15, from Caterham High School, Clayhall, sat where MPs vote on the country’s laws and decided which issues they wanted to bring to the attention of Parliament.

James said: “It was really special to sit in that place and know its history and it was quite exciting to know all those people who have been there before.”

The debate was the final stage of the Make Your Mark consultation, which enabled young people across the country to shortlist five issues to become this year’s Youth Parliament campaigns and be presented to the adult Parliament.

The two motions selected were improving mental health provision for young people in England and tackling racism and religious discrimination across the UK.

The outcome of the vote was welcomed by Bridget and James, Redbridge’s Youth Council representatives as mental health was the Youth Council’s latest flagship campaign.

Tackling discrimination was also voted the second highest priority by the 14,279 young people in the borough who took part in the consultation.

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“It was really fun and I didn’t expect it to be as lively a debate as it was,” said Bridget.

She admitted being “a bit nervous” when she had to speak against the motion for a curriculum for life, which would include finance, politics and sexual education in the school curriculum – a motion she supports.

Bridget said: “It was a really good experience and it taught me to adapt to any situation.”

James, who sat as a backbencher, said it was “incredibly frustrating” not being able to speak during the debate but enjoyed listening to other young people’s “different perspectives” on the motions.

He said: “No one rejects anyone’s opinion. Everyone wants to hear each other and everyone wants the same goal – to improve things for young people in the community.”