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.
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.
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.