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Leader/Times Column 28th October 2016

This week has seen plenty of young people from Pendle visiting Parliament. One thing I consider a really important part of being an MP is making our democracy as accessible and easy to understand as possible, especially for young people.

On Tuesday evening, I attended a meeting of the National Citizen Service (NCS), the youth volunteering scheme for 16 and 17-year-olds set up by the former Prime Minister, David Cameron. One hundred and twenty young people from around the country, who had been selected to be NCS Leaders because of the impact they have made in their own communities, came to Westminster to tell MPs about the NCS and what it has done for them.

One of the Leaders was Alex Abrahams from Barrowford, a student at Nelson and Colne College. Through the NCS, Alex became part of a team of 10 volunteers working with the Ribble Rivers Trust on a bee conservation project. Our bee population is threatened so this is vital work.

It was great to meet a young person from our area, able to get involved with local community projects through the programme. The Government currently has a Bill going through Parliament looking to expand the scheme. I am looking forward to supporting it when it comes to the Commons.

This builds on a great year, with 340 children from 11 Pendle schools visiting through Parliament’s Education Service. Last week, I was especially pleased to welcome four pupils from Barnoldswick’s The Alternative School and have many more school trips booked in before Christmas.

There is no-one who should be excluded from our democracy or our society and it is fantastic that when young people are able to learn about both, and to play their part in working to improve the places we live or debating the rules we all live by.

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