Thomas Copeland

Chair of the Youth Select Committee (Northern Ireland Seat)

Thomas is an A level student from Northern Ireland, where he studies Politics, History and Music. Thomas’ interest in youth politics began through taking part in ‘Debating Matters’ and in his school’s Model United Nations conferences. This involved researching issues, writing resolutions and mentoring younger pupils. As Deputy Head Boy of his school, he has experience of leadership, public speaking and chairing school council committees. Thomas was selected for work experience in the Northern Ireland Assembly Executive in June 2016 and through this gained an invaluable insight into the working of a devolved administration. A highlight was the opportunity to debate questions on young peoples’ issues with the then deputy First Minister. In 2015 Thomas co-founded Challenges NI, a political discussion platform, which was set up to encourage youth involvement in the political process in Northern Ireland. Through Challenges NI, Thomas has staged a series of live debates over the last two years which were extremely well attended and, with the use of social media and live-streaming, have reached large audiences. The most recent hustings in March 2017 was the best attended hustings of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. This platform has enabled many young people to question politicians and political commentators face to face on important issues such as social deprivation, youth unemployment, student fees and the impact of Brexit. Through managing and presenting ChallengesNI, at a time of unprecedented political interest and activity in Northern Ireland, Thomas has developed public presentation skills and links with politicians and broadcast media. In the last six months he has been interviewed on political issues by BBC Radio Ulster, BBC TV, Radio Telfis Eireann, BBC Radio One Newsbeat and was recently a panellist on the BBC NI politics show, ‘The Top Table’. Thomas hopes to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at university. Thomas’ other strong interests are music and drama. In 2014 he was the Northern Ireland Representative at the National Youth Theatre in London. He has gained Grade 8 with Distinction in voice, trumpet and drama, has performed in operas in the UK, Italy and China, appeared in BBC dramas and is currently vocalist and lead trumpet with the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra. Thomas believes that his communication and media skills will be an asset to the Youth Select Committee on Body Image and hopes to ensure that as many young people as possible are given a voice on this key issue, the positive outcome of which will be critical to the happiness and well -being of so many of his generation.

Becca Moore

Vice Chair of the Youth Select Committee (Other Representative Seat)

Becca began her youth voice journey in 2013 as a North Tyneside Youth Councillor and was elected to the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) in 2014. She remained a Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) for two years during which she collected over 11,000 young people’s votes in the annual Make Your Mark Ballot in 2014, spoke for better Mental Health services in the House of Commons and worked closely with local decision makers. In 2016 Becca was elected as the North East’s UKYP Procedures Group Representative. Within this role, she has provided a supportive role for her MYPs. She opened the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting in 2016 in front of over 300 members, playing an active role in facilitating the event as well as other events throughout the year. Becca was re-elected to the Procedures Group for 2017 and is currently working in the elected policy sub-group to update UK Youth Parliament procedures and develop an efficient system for updating the Manifesto. Becca was selected to chair the North Tyneside Young Person’s Health and Wellbeing Board in 2016, working to improve sexual health services and creating an informative video for young people about the local one-to-one sexual health centre. From her training and campaigning about sexual health services, Becca then became involved in training Sexual Health Nurses at Northumbria University, enabling her to ensure new nurses were able to communicate effectively with young people. The North Tyneside Young Person's Health and Wellbeing Board also worked on Mental Health, and under Becca’s chairship, a research based report on Mental Health Services and Education was written with contributions from major organisations and services such as Young Minds and CAMHS. The report was submitted and presented to the 2015 Youth Select Committee and used to influence their report on Mental Health. Becca and the group used the report to create a Mental Health Education Pack named ‘M!ND YOUR HEAD’ which was hugely effective and is still being used in schools across North Tyneside and the whole country. Becca is a fully trained You're Welcome accreditor and is heavily involved in ensuring services are young person friendly, making recommendations on how to be better. Due to her experience in campaigning on various health issues, Becca was elected to the NHS Youth Forum in 2015 and secured another term in 2016. In this role she has been involved in representing young people to NHS decision makers as well as working on various campaigns such as #DearNHS and improving awareness of confidentiality and rights. Becca has received various awards and hopes to bring her experience to the Youth Select Committee and is excited for the new experience of working closely with parliament and scrutinising the vitally important issue of Body Image.

Aisha Malik-Smith

Member of NHS England Youth Forum (Youth Representative Seat)

Aisha is a student from London with a passion for social affairs. Her activism has led her to hold a variety of roles representing young people, and she is currently an active member of the NHS Youth Forum. Through this, she has had the opportunity to speak to several senior figures within the NHS about the importance of empowering young people to take control of their own health, and is championing youth rights in an All Party Parliamentary Group. Aisha was appointed the current Lord Mayor’s Cadet of the Year for St. John Ambulance, representing to royalty and dignitaries at ceremonial functions with the Lord Mayor, advocating the importance of young people’s wellbeing. On a local level, Aisha has co-ordinated political campaigns around mental health, especially focusing on the services and treatment young people access. She is actively involved in local politics and writes a blog about current affairs and society as well as directing plays at her local community theatre - she hopes to go into international journalism or political film-making. Having seen the effect the media has had on the body image of people around her and experiencing difficulties with her own self-image, Aisha seeks to combat the extreme expectations of size in the fashion industry and how this filters through society. She also wants to explore the pressure placed on ethnic minorities to conform to Western beauty standards, and the difficulties marginalised groups face with regards to body image. Aisha hopes her time on the Youth Select Committee will broaden her horizons and enable her to develop her ambitions further while tackling a fundamental issue for young people today.

Alex Robertson

Committee Convener, Scottish Youth Parliament (Scottish Seat)

Alex's journey as a youth voice representative began in March 2015 when she was elected a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for west Dunbartonshire. Her main focus was to campaign for mental health awareness and increased support for young people. This passion for mental health is based on personal experience and the experience of people close to her. Alex was elected Convener of the health and wellbeing committee on the Scottish Youth Parliament. During her time in this role she has successfully campaigned for topics such as Transitional wards in hospital, mental health rights and EU nationals that work within the NHS having the right to stay in Scotland post Brexit. Alex has served as an elected Member of Youth Parliament since July 2016 and had the opportunity to speak in the House of Commons as a part of the UK Youth Parliament sitting. She spoke passionately during the racism and discrimination debate which was a real highlight of her youth politics career. The next venture for Alex is the Youth Select Committee where she will help to write a important report on the topic of body image. This topic is a real problem for young people in the U.K. She is hopeful that the work the youth select committee do will make a positive change in the lives of young people.

Alizeh Abdul Rahman

Member of Youth Parliament for Plymouth

Alizeh is an A-level student from Plymouth, with an interest in politics, philosophy and youth representation, in particular of minority groups; she intends to further her passion for philosophy by studying it at University. She was recently elected as a Member of Youth Parliament for Plymouth and as part of her campaign is actively involved in tackling racial and religious discrimination in schools in the city. Her interest in the area of body image stems from her experience working with young people in schools through youth groups: she currently holds a seat on the Diversity Forum for Plymouth which involves discussing issues surrounding racial and religious discrimination, LGBT and transgender rights. In order to understand such a complex issue like body image, Alizeh acknowledges the importance of considering its constituent parts, such as the effects on different people and in different contexts. From her work running a Gender Equality Society in school, Alizeh has, in particular, noticed the unwillingness to discuss body image as a male issue as well as female - as well as beyond the traditional gender types, considering the effect of gender dysphoria on transgender young people. She strongly believes that the rich diversity of our society demands to respect the experiences of different people, and providing representation on multiple levels. Alizeh applied for a seat on the Youth Select Committee because, from a personal standpoint, she understands that body image is a phenomenon in society which can often become faceless, with the consequences for so many young people being ignored as part of the phase of growing up. Having been on the receiving end of racism and religious discrimination, she recognises that this fuels issues surrounding a negative body image - the effects on ethnic minorities is necessary to consider. By holding a seat on the Committee, Alizeh hopes she can add a voice to this face of body image, bring forward her own experiences to consolidate the research and represent young people like herself who are so heavily affected by these ideals and attitudes.

Emma Curran

Wolverhampton's Youth Police and Crime Commissioner (Youth Representative Seat)

Emma is an 18 year-old A-level student studying Chemistry, Biology and Politics at an all-girls school in Wolverhampton. She is hoping to study Medical Science at University of Exeter in September. She began campaigning to be a member of Wolverhampton City Youth Council when she was 13 and has since served as Chair, and Membership and Democracy Officer. She has been involved with campaigns around budget cuts to youth services, mental health, tackling racism, young voters, and many others - as well as being on the young people's board for the development of a new "Youth Zone" in her city. She has also been an elected Member of the UK Youth Parliament - giving her the opportunity to speak in the House of Commons on tackling racism and religious discrimination inclusively, against all races and religions. Currently, Emma is Wolverhampton's Youth Police and Crime Commissioner and is working on a campaign around child sexual exploitation. Emma is constantly looking to get more involved with youth representation and combatting young people's issues. She was awarded "Wolverhampton Young Citizen of the Year Award 2016-2017" for dedication to the community. Body image is an important issue for Emma as she has been trained, through Girlguiding, as a peer educator to deliver interactive sessions to girls on recognising and challenging the "image myth", and feeling comfortable in their own skins. However, she feels that this is an issue that can affect everyone and would like to ensure it is seen from the perspective of all genders. She is very excited to be involved with this project and hopes it will make a difference to the lives of young people.

Michael Bryan

Youth Trustee for Plan International UK (Other Representative Seat)

An advocate for change, Michael campaigns for a gender-blind world. After reading the heart-breaking story of a girl his age battle the horrors of Female Genital Mutilation, it horrified him to know millions of girls could not go to school. That girls his age were forced to marry as children and give birth before their bodies were ready. As the youth trustee for Plan International UK, Michael has spearheaded initiatives to deliver change. From leading internal governance reviews, to collaborating on humanitarian aid projects and pioneering social media campaigns that have seen over a million impressions. In his role as national chair of the International Youth Council, Michael has also led discussions with policymakers regarding changes to the national curriculum. Comprehending the myriad of challenges associated with body image, Michael commented that he had ‘opened pandora’s box to a wealth of knowledge, and almost simultaneously a chilling reality. A reality that epitomised a desire for action, and underpinned a need for change.’ Michael’s passion has left him in constant search of what more he could do. Merging playing Volleyball at the highest level, with his true passion - challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers. He has worked with his National Governing Body to campaign for even more women and girls in sport, citing negative body image as an integral area to address. Michael believes body image does not discriminate, it is more than just a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue. He has worked with other global youth leaders to inspire more young people to become agents of change. Alongside his diverse experience in protecting marginalised communities, Michael is an academic scholar at Canford School with a sincere passion for political affairs. He has written for leading institutions, as well as speaking at a Party Conference and OCS Social Action Conference. Emphasising the importance in research, he hopes the report will provide a compelling account of how society can find new vehicles for change.

Oscar Daniel

Young Mayor for North Tyneside

Oscar is a year 8 student from North Tyneside. He was elected Young Mayor in February 2017 after a dedicated month of campaigning locally. Oscar’s focus in his role of Young Mayor will be transport fares, development in PSHE in schools and working to improve the local environment, to make North Tyneside a safer and cleaner borough. Oscar began volunteering his time in youth participation as a children’s councillor, where he focused on a recycling campaign, creating a rap and achieving a junior civic award. In 2016 he progressed onto working alongside peers as a youth councillor, shortly followed by taking up a position on the local youth cabinet, taking on the portfolio for Ready for Work and Life. Oscar was responsible for successes launching a credit union scheme called “First Savers Scheme” into secondary schools. Oscar has a passion for music and is currently supporting a music festival called “Soundfest” for hundreds of young people. One of Oscar’s main interests is just going to the youth council because he wants to make a difference but it also opens up a lot more opportunities for him locally, regionally and nationally. Oscar is really looking forward to his time on the Youth Select Committee and is loving it already!

Samuel Pidgeon

Member of The Out There Group (Other Representative Seat)

Samuel had been a member of the LGBT youth group, The Out There Group since 2014. This provided the much needed confidence for him to do many of the experiences which followed his involvement with the group. It has led him to become increasingly involved with his community and this has helped him grow as a person. It was through the youth group that he came into contact with a Participation Worker at CAMHS. His motivations to make CAMHS a better experience for everyone drove him to become involved with this and has since helped form a group called CAPS (CAMHS Advice and Participation Service). In this group he has used his past, mainly negative, experiences of his local CAMHS service to improve the service for patients in the future despite not needing the service anymore. Through this Samuel has helped to influence how initial assessments are conducted and is creating an LGBT training video for NHS staff which will be distributed later this year. Additionally, through meetings with senior supervisors, he is now going facilitate workshops for young people in a volunteering role.

Yasmin-Jade Sides

Member of Youth Parliament for Wrexham

Yasmin is a modern apprentice working with a participation team as part of the county borough council in North Wales, Wrexham. Previous to this role Yasmin was part of “Senedd yr Ifanc” the Wrexham Youth Parliament, a youth participation group. She has been involved with this group since 2012 and is now lucky enough to be able to join the staffing team helping to run it along with supporting its young people. In 2012 Yasmin first became a member of Wrexham Youth Parliament which is an elected body of young people aged 11-25, representing a group or project in and around the Wrexham area. They meet on a monthly basis to work on issues chosen by young people. Yasmin now takes a lead in facilitating events, training opportunities, presentations and workshops, alongside the youth management group. In 2016, Yasmin was elected as the Member of UK Youth Parliament for Wrexham to represent the views of all young people in Wrexham. This was an incredible experience as she was enabled to see how actively involved young people are around the United Kingdom and how this differs from where she is based. Yasmin is very passionate about ensuring all young people have the ability to voice their opinion which is what motivates her to be involved in local and national politics. In November 2016, she had the pleasure of being able to begin work experience with Wrexham’s youth participation team, which she used as a springboard to become a modern apprentice. Yasmin will remain in this position until July 2018, after which she hopes to begin achieving youth work qualifications to help to further a career.

Zacchaeus Richard Hayward

Vice Chair of Conwy Youth Council (Wales Seat)

Zacchaeus is a GCSE student from Rhos-On-Sea, Conwy. He came into his position on this committee via his membership of the Conwy Youth Council (CYC), which he was elected to in 2015 as a communicative representative for his school, and in February 2017 was made their youngest Vice-Chair in history at 14 years of age. As part of his work within the Youth Council, he has participated in and advised on numerous projects, from representing Conwy at the Young Wales conference in order to get a national youth perspective on the issues affecting their futures and discuss these with, to providing the youth input into the Conwy County Corporate Plan (2017-2022), assisting in the editing process in order to guide it more to adherence in line with the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015. He has also sat on a board of CYC Councillors to hire the new Youth Participation Officer for Conwy, rasied awareness of the common but gravely serious nature of mental health illnesses through an advertisement campaign in collaboration with a mental health organisation, and helped change for the better the way students with ALN (Additional Learning Needs) are helped to navigate the education system by interviewing a sample regarding their experiences and suggesting implementable changes to the County Council. Zacchaeus is a staunch and vehement supporter of work to improve the lives of other young people irrespective of gender, ethnicity or social class, and tries to apply this to every aspect of his roles.

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