On Tuesday, I was asked to speak to Labour Students at the University of Reading.
Being 25, a (fairly) recent graduate living in a house share and someone still paying off their student loan, I can identify with the issues that students and young people are facing.
I talked about my journey through politics which started at Leeds University Union after a challenge from a friend spurred me to stand for Union Council. This was the time that I first got involved with the Labour Party and after that I progressed to a full time officer, the National Executive Council of NUS and Young Members’ Officer of my local UNISON branch. I was fortunate that my introduction to politics came early on and that I had a supportive, engaging environment to learn in but so many miss that chance. The Labour Party has a key role to play in giving people, particularly young people, that voice and I’m keen to be a part of that in Reading.
What followed was an engaging debate about barriers, from student debt to unemployment, an unaffordable housing market and this government’s attack on education maintenance allowance and youth support. There are many reasons why young people disengage.
I’m looking forward to working with the Reading Labour Students in the coming weeks and months. Last month, I also went to Reclaim the Night London with London Young Labour.
The truth is that young people are the future of our movement and it is our responsibility to develop and encourage them. I’m going to do everything possible to get more young people involved in the Reading Labour Party.