My Citizenship Evening School ran from January to April this year via Zoom, and was designed with help from local teachers, to bridge the gap for students in years 11,12 and 13 who were at a critical stage in their education, but had been unable to secure work experience or careers advice due to the pandemic.
The Evening School had 7 sessions where professionals from fields including law, journalism, the environment, policing and public health were able to share their experience with young people and provide advice about their options.
Each session offered the chance to hear from and put questions to some impressive panellists, with a good mix of local and national speakers. Panellists included Dr Owen Williams from the local NHS trust, Laura Collins Editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, Nicky Chance-Thompson Chief Exec of the Piece Hall and Deborah Harkins, Director of Public Health for Calderdale. In all, the young people met 33 different experts in the seven sessions.
Over 70 students took part in the sessions and I was really happy that I could visit Trinity Academy, Crossley Heath and North Halifax Grammar School to present certificates to the students who successfully completed the course.
The feedback from the sessions suggested that the students particularly enjoyed hearing from panel members who had overcome challenges in their lives such as dyslexia and anxieties about public speaking.
After such a difficult year for young learners, I was really pleased to see so many students getting involved, attending the sessions and asking lots of questions. Those who completed the scheme should be incredibly proud of their achievements. The feedback we received from panellists and students alike was really positive and I am looking forward to running the scheme again next year.
I asked whether any of the young people wanted to do a written piece about a session they had found particularly useful. I promised that I would publish them here:
One of the main reasons I wanted to attend the Citizenship Evening school was to gain a greater insight into the pathways and careers in politics and law. In the very first session, I was able to hear from: Peter Kyle MP Shadow Minister for Victims and Youth Justice, Mark Burns-Williamson who is Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire*, tribunal judge Leanne Turner and lawyer Hugh Gouldburne. Each panelist talked about how different career experiences can help in any job and where you come from shouldn’t stop you from doing anything.
I was lucky enough to ask a question to the panel about what tips they would give about practicing public speaking and how to become more confident with it. As someone who wants to go into politics or law, public speaking is such a key aspect of them both and is something I would like to improve in. I received some fantastic answers, especially from Peter Kyle MP, who said to always try and ask a question from an audience, as it is the most intimidating public speaking to do. In addition, he said to be yourself and instead of focusing on the nerves, use them as energy in your speech. The other panelists also gave some great tips, including the importance of preparation, research and to always learn from experiences. All the advice I received will go towards improving my public speaking ability, and I am grateful to all of the panelists for answering my question.
Of all the Citizenship Evening school sessions, the one on law was my favourite. To hear first-hand from the people in the profession about the difference they can make was so inspiring, and it has definitely helped me focus on what career I would like to pursue in the future.
*Details correct at the time of the session in January
Reflecting on the recent global pandemic has significantly highlighted the adversities, inequalities and flaws within the National Healthcare System. Being a proud member of the BAME society, this problem really exasperates me. Attending a citizenship programme hosted by Holly Lynch helped me to reinforce the indispensability of increased public health within communities. Deborah Hawkins, Director of Public Health Calderdale, explains the importance of tackling root causes of health as well as building trust between citizens to take responsibility for their own well-being. Since studying biology, I really enjoy the aspect of diagnosing illnesses and helping patients come to other side of the tunnel following their treatment. However, as an aspiring doctor, we must concede that everybody will not want to adhere to our management plans, despite this, our sole aim still remains to try our best in building a good rapport between others to make even the smallest difference to their lives.
From the offset of the vaccine roll out, some individuals refused to take the vaccine and Dr Steven Cleasby from the clinical commission group said that only 40-50% of people in ethnic minorities considered taking the vaccine whilst the white population were more likely to have the vaccine. We as future healthcare professions need to be of service to humanity by embodying social cohesion through collective awareness and supporting each other; communities are not to be blamed. Many GP’s, whom 90% of their patients consult with them annually, feel that prevention is better than cure and so public health needs to be prioritised in effectively getting that message across. Steve Russell, chief executive of the nightingale hospitals, accounts a cardiologist who conducted research on some data of the number of people suffering from heart disease. In one particular year, the diseases related to cardiology decreased rapidly. It was questioned the cause of this decrease and it was due to the law for prohibiting smoking in public areas. This shows that big governmental steps are also the driving force of change.
Thereof, this motivated me to become an advocate for my local community. I started volunteering at a district Pharmacy, just giving back all the hard work they cleaved during the pandemic. This improved my communication with people from ethnic minorities and able to speak with them in a language they are comfortable with. I acknowledged to them the greater benefits of having the covid jabs against the potential severe risks of declining it. Forcing isn’t the only and best way but educating and breaking social barriers brings about a more successful and long-term solution.