Friday, 24 July 2015

We're Still Here, But You Can't Hear Us! / Da Ni Dal Yma, Ond Fedrwch Ddim Ein Clywed Ni! - Lucia's Story

This is Lucia's story of her time at Funky Dragon.. 

Upon joining Funky Dragon and just sitting in the first meeting, I realised that not only would I be joining a hub of young people across Wales, I would also be joining a movement. The people I met there, some now lifelong friends, have given me my first taste of drive, determination and passion for the rights of young people no matter how bleak a successful outcome may have looked. This organisation not only taught me the ins and outs of democracy and politics, not only how to stand up for what I believed to be right but also how to be the best person I could be. Every achievement was celebrated, every piece of work championed and if I may speak for us all, I believe we felt valued as young people - for some of us this was the first time we have felt this way. 

The organisation had a sense of community and belonging; we were proud to be part of it and we were proud of each other. I met young people from all walks of life, allowing me to understand different backgrounds and strengthening my ability to represent my own diverse County. Everyone was friendly, everyone supported each other and it felt like we were all fighting the same battle. It also strengthened our understanding of Party Politics, many of my friends have gone on to study Politics or become Politicians; knowledge of the Country's political agenda is vitally important and I would have not learned it otherwise. 

Growing up in my rural community, I often felt like my voice was unheard. I was very shy and although interested in Politics having joined my county forum, I still was not confident in myself. I found speaking to people terrifying, I was so shy that I couldn't even go into a shop and buy something on my own. I wanted to change this, so I took a terrifying risk and signed up to become a member. Joining Funky Dragon gave hope to not only myself and my local forum, but to my entire County who lived by the "we are not in an English city so they don't care" mantra. Suddenly I, along with my fellow County representatives, became the voice of hope to all of these young people. Suddenly we could tell them that the change They want could happen. I began to gain confidence in myself, volunteering to sit in the House of Commons in the televised UKYP event, becoming bold enough to co-chair meetings with Government officials, most notably in my experience the Chief Executive of the NHS. In my final year I volunteered to lead a debate within the group, in front of the rest of the Youth Assembly. This may seem like a small achievement, but without Funky Dragon and without the support and encouragement that I always had from the group and the staff I, a shy girl from the Countryside would never would have been able to do such a thing. Funky Dragon showed me and a lot of others that our voices do matter and that we really can influence change. It is detrimental to cut such a valuable resource for young people's voice; this organisation has changed many lives. I am not by any means calling it a flawless organisation. But I will continue to celebrate its incredible work and the wider opportunities it brings to its members, the confidence it builds in young people, and the voice it provides for Wales. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

We're Still Here, But You Can't Hear Us! / Da Ni Dal Yma, Ond Fedrwch Ddim Ein Clywed Ni! - Tabby's Story

Tabby was a member of Funky Dragon from Anglesey in North Wales, like many other members she is pursuing an academic career in Politics..
"I was in Funky Dragon for two years. I was the co-chair for Education. Without funky dragon i would of not got into politics and have such passion for way education is given. Funky dragon gave us a voice and it help me understand what others thought in wales. With out it young people don't have voice and how can we build on our futures without politicians on our side.."

Tabitha Cook @tabby123456789  

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Week in Westminster

From the week beginning 13th July, I was lucky enough to be offered work experience in the Westminster office of my local representative, the Rt. Hon David Jones MP for Clwyd West in North Wales. The experience was an amazing opportunity to put to the test my academic understanding of UK politics, engage in the working life of the House of Commons and offer my skills and experience in writing policy recommendations. The opportunity also gave me a chance to gain new competencies in writing press releases, corresponding with constituents and liaising with lobbyist groups. The experience not only gave me the opportunity to use and develop skills but to test my ability to be successful in the working world after three years as a student studying International Politics and Conflict Studies.

The work I was given was varied and challenging and tasks ranged from postal triage engaging in diplomatic meetings. It was a pleasant coincidence that one of my MP’s main areas of interest has moved to the politics of the Middle East, which happened to be one of my most enjoyable modules at Queen’s. Although slightly to the East, the recent nuclear deal in Iran became a main area of debate in the House during my week in the Commons and this was an exciting opportunity to sit in on debates such as Prime Ministers Questions and Oral Questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not only did this opportunity allow me to witness first hand the scrutiny the government is put under following such significant agreements but also sit in on diplomatic meetings with lobbyist groups such as the National Council of Resistance for Iran (NCRI) and hear different sides of the debate on whether the agreement was regarded a success.

A different aspect of the role was engagement with issues raised from constituents, this enabled me to adapt quickly to working on differing issues simultaneously. I was given research tasks on issues such as the assisted dying bill and how the budget will affect North Wales. This enabled me to use skills gained at Queen’s, in particular the ‘Skills and Methods” module which allowed me to evaluate reliability, value and purpose of pieces of data in order to write well balanced and accurate briefings on the differing issues.

Developing professionally, this opportunity has given me confidence in myself to enter the job market following my MA next year, (which will also be at Queen’s) having attractive skills and experience to offer employers. I felt the work I did in the HoC was valued and gave me a genuine portrayal of what is expected of a parliamentary assistant, as opposed to many internships where you're left making tea and photocopying. The other parliamentary assistants encouraged me and I was made to feel like part of the team. The opportunity has also restored my faith in the political system, although speaking only for the hard work of my MP David Jones; I was able to see how he successfully engages with the issues of his constituents with un-doubtable empathy for their issues and a quick turnaround in resolving problems. I would encourage any student in the School to contact their MP and inquire about such an experience as it has undoubtedly enhanced my employability and confidence prior to entering the job market.  

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

We're Still Here, But You Can't Hear Us / Da Ni Dal Yma, Ond Fedrwch Ddim Ein Clywed Ni!

Funky Dragon gave me a voice and inspired me to go back into education. Having been a care leaver at 16 and leaving school with no qualifications. Funky dragon gave me the opportunity to engage with other young people and make some great friends. 

Funky dragon taught me that I was a valued citizen of Britain and my voice mattered. It gave me the confidence to represent other young people. I was transformed from a quiet, nervous person who didn't believe in my capabilities. But within a year I was co chairing meetings at the assembly, running workshops and sessions, speaking at minister's cabinet meetings and supporting funky dragon on their management committee. 3 years with funky dragon saw me thrive in life and gave me real opportunities which has benefited and improved my outcomes. After my time at FD I went on to be a participation youth worker, foster panel member and a representative on the care council for Wales. I also returned to education and as a result have improved my life for the better. Funky D was so much more than just giving YP a voice. It gave us wings to soar and the confidence to shine. It is a great loss but it's work can never be undone or forgotten as we are all still here but you can't hear us! It's just so sad that other children and young people will miss out on such an amazing opportunity. 

Dorian Spencer Lewis