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Parliament visit for Pendle mums and daughters

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The Mums2Mums group meeting Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Burnley MP Julie Cooper

UCLan initiative saw them visit the Houses of Commons and Lords

A community initiative has seen a group of mums and daughters travel from Lancashire to London to watch the world of politics at work.

The Marsden Heights Community College students and their mothers visited the House of Commons and House of Lords as part of the Girlz into Community Leadership programme.

The programme, delivered by the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Centre for Volunteering and Community Leadership, aims to raise the educational, social and political aspirations of women and girls.

Jenefa Begum, one of the people on the visit, said: “This was an opportunity for a group of women from the North West to experience the hustle bustle of London and have their voices heard by MPs on issues that affect their and the lives their families in some of the poorest wards in the country.”

The Mums2Mums group, from the south Asian community in Pendle, met with Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, Burnley MP Julie Cooper and Pendle MP Andrew Stevenson. They were invited to watch a devolution debate in the Commons and they witnessed the Lords reject the Brexit Bill as they viewed the debate from the gallery in the House of Lords.

The aim of the programme is to provide women and girls with the skills and confidence to take on leadership roles within their communities.

Wajid Khan, course leader in community leadership, explained: “The aim of the programme is to provide women and girls with the skills and confidence to take on leadership roles within their communities. Women are currently under represented in decision making within some communities and this is because they sometimes lack the confidence to come forward.”

Community leadership lecturer Yasmeen Ali, who manages the Girlz into Community Leadership initiative, said: “This programme starts working with young women from Year 10 and we are carrying out a successful pilot project at Marsden Heights Community College in Nelson, where UCLan community leadership students have been facilitating skill development for girls and mums.”

One of the UCLan students who has been working with the group is Jo Wood. She commented: “The thing I really loved about it was watching them all grow in confidence and how they were so keen to take the skills they had learned into real life situations.”

UCLan is part of a group of 13 universities exploring issues relating to access to higher education and the pedagogical policy impediments certain groups and communities face. The purpose of the national project is to pull strands of research together to create a picture that will help inform policy and practice.

We are proud to have been able to facilitate a discussion about aspiration between young women from the Lancashire area and senior politicians in Westminster.

Paul Wilkinson, a UCLan Graduate Research Intern for the project, added: said: “Girlz into Community Leadership is part of a UCLan based Equality Challenge Unit initiative that we called ‘Changing the Story’. We are using Freirean influenced Emancipatory Action Research to facilitate a peer led exploration of social and cultural barriers to learning.  Our methodology and approach is based on an understanding that we all act mutually, as both learners and teachers, sharing our knowledge and assisting each other to develop”.

Pradeep Passi, Director of Academic Development in the Faculty of Business, Law and Applied Social Studies, added: “This is an important initiative that UCLan is embarking on and fits with our agenda of understanding and removing the barriers that some individuals and communities face in accessing education. We are proud to have been able to facilitate a discussion about aspiration between young women from the Lancashire area and senior politicians in Westminster.”

Rachel Atkinson | 08 March 2017