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Young people speaking up for themselves

YOUNG VOICE: Talisha Johnson

THE YOUNGER generation in the West Midlands is getting a political shake-up thanks to lobby groups that have thrown down the gauntlet to 16 to 24 year-olds, urging them to make their mark in the political arena.

Many don’t see the point of engaging with their local councillors or MPs, let alone voting, but they are now all having a wake-up call in Birmingham.

The first youth forum held in Lozells last month attracted a good number of young people and a second session is being held at ‘Goals’ in Tameside Way, off Aldridge Road in Perry Barr on Saturday (May 4) between 11am and 1pm.

The events are being organised by the Birmingham-based groups Birmingham Empowerment Forum (BEM) and United in Building Legacy.

“The aim is for young people to have the chance to discuss real issues, as opposed to classroom issues,” said organiser and community activist Desmond Jaddoo, who is also a founder member of BEM.

“This is a way of showing them how their voices can be heard and how they are in a position to hold their local councillors and MPs to account. It is all about engaging and getting that message out there to young people.”

“There are many out there who could play an active role in civic leadership and empower themselves by becoming involved politically.”

Talisha Johnson, who spoke out at the first forum, is still only 19, but is already a budding community activist. She has already secured a reputation within her community for organising a series of annual youth excellence events to put the spotlight on young people’s achievements that would otherwise go unnoticed.

“I think many of the problems stem from the fact that at school generally we are not taught about political life, or who are local MPs are,” said Talisha, at the March forum.

“Young people are not taught about mortgages, how to finance a home or invest in a business. The education system keeps us in a box for ten years until we’re told ‘that’s it now – you’re on your own.’ We need to change this.”

Anyone who wants more information about the youth forum on Saturday can contact Desmond Jaddoo on 07946 374 577.

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