A graduation ceremony was held in Portcullis House Westminster, on Friday for university students from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures who have completed the Faith & Belief Forum's ParliaMentors leadership and social change programme.
Since its inception in 2007 the ParliaMentors programme has empowered over 450 young people by linking university students with MP mentors. The MP's provide teams of up to five students from each university with coaching, leadership, advice and their experience, helping students to develop a project that will challenge - and ideally change - an issue in their communities.
A desire to overcome divisive political and religious narratives is the starting point for many students as they commit to the year-long ParliaMentors programme.
Whether that is tackling religious, gender and disability prejudice, tackling stigma around issues such as mental health, housing inequality or period poverty or looking at better ways of including and welcoming those from different cultures the end result is a well-researched and executed social action programme.
2018 ParliaMentees have set up surgeries that provide legal advice to refugees, have secured funding for the first inter-faith allotment in Tower Hamlets and tackled housing inequality in Salford. The programme is now in its eleventh year, and the Faith & Belief Forum is ever alert to the way in which the role for inter-faith is changing. Young people do not stand for inequality, and actively step forward to bring about social change and engage their peers and communities in ways that many politicians can only dream of.
Commenting on the 2018 graduation, Programmes Manager, Movement Building, Tim Mortimer said: "These students are going to be the more diverse and more representative leaders our society desperately needs. They channel their energy to overcome deep-seated societal issues of prejudice and inequality. It has been inspiring to see how this year's intake have been dedicated to carving out safer, more inclusive spaces for their peers and those in need. More than ever the current political climate calls for leaders who are sensitive to the nuances of all faiths and beliefs, and are able to build connections across communities to drive forward change together."
At the Graduation ceremony in Portcullis House Westminster, the keynote address was provided by Luciana Berger MP and introduced by the Rt Hon John Bercow MP.
The ParliaMentors programme has won the UN Award for Intercultural Innovation, and is a partner of the British Council's Active Citizens programme. It is supported by the Dulverton Trust and the Randeree Charitable Trust.
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