MP Rushanara Ali meets ‘tomorrow’s MPs’ at Caley Primary school

MP Rushanara Ali joins Caley Primary's ReachOut project

MP Rushanara Ali joins Caley Primary's ReachOut project - Credit: ReachOut charity

MP Rushanara Ali dropped in on a mentoring project in a school in her constituency in London’s East End half expecting to meet a future prime minister.

She had been invited by the National Youth Agency charity to find out more about youth work in communities as part of its campaign to get MPs to spend an hour with youth workers in their constituencies as part of Youth Work Week.

Rushanara, Labour MP for Berthnal Green & Bow, arrived at Stepney’s Cayley Primary where a ReachOut mentoring project has been running for the past nine years.

Pupils aged 10 and 11 are offered weekly one-to-one mentoring from university students who help them develop their character through group activities as well as academic support.

They were making up speeches with their mentors in a literacy and drama activity, with imaginary awards for building a ‘time machine’ to winning a chocolate eating competition!

“I was impressed by the speeches the youngsters gave,” the MP said afterwards.

“I look forward to welcoming some of them in Parliament as future MPs—or perhaps even Prime Minister!”

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Rushanara spoke to the youngsters about her role as an MP—joking that she would make school hours longer if they weren’t nice to her!

ReachOut helps build confidence, presentation and writing skills, as Cayley Headteacher Lissa Samuel explained: “One of the least-confident girls in the group stood up and give her presentation—she would never have done that before taking part in the project.”

But the Youth Agency warns that not everyone has access to such schemes—which is “likely to get worse” if local education authorities cut budgets.

The agency’s chief Fiona Blacke said: “To understand the impact of youth work on young people’s lives you have to see it in action and talk to the workers involved who sometimes feel they don’t get the political support they need.

“Understanding the work going on in constituencies is essential for MPs—it demonstrates their support for young people at a time when being young isn’t that easy.”

Youth Work Week earlier this month highlighted the role youth workers play, from sports and extra-curricular clubs like Brownies and Scouts to mentoring those with behaviour or health problems.