Stroud District Green Party has urged other local political parties to offer work experience placements for school pupils, to give young people an early interest in how politics works.
This follows the success of the Greens’ latest work experience placement, when an A level student at Pates Grammar School spent half-term week shadowing councillors and activists in a wide variety of activities.
Pippa, aged 17, was the fourth work experience student Stroud Greens have mentored and co-coordinator Lynn Haanen said the week had been a great success. “Young people are the voters and politicians of the future so it’s important that all parties engage with them and show them how interesting and rewarding local politics can be. I’d love to see all the local parties offering placements so that collectively we can offer more young people the chance to gain early experience of the political process.”
During her week, Pippa took part in a variety of activities, including meetings at Gloucestershire County Council, Stroud District Council and Stroud Town Council, a litter pick and a community bike ride. She also helped compile an election ballot, wrote an article about being a councillor and met the parliamentary candidate, Pete Kennedy, to learn how the Green Party works at national level.
Pippa wanted to do work experience with a local political party to help her build on the knowledge of national politics she has gained from studying Politics at A Level.
With no previous experience of how local councils and parties work, Pippa said she was surprised by how varied their activities are. “The community-focused nature of local politics also surprised me as I expected less direct involvement in local issues and found it interesting to see how councillors helped residents in their wards. It was inspiring to see how much of an impact individuals can have on change in the area.”
Pippa said she found the week fascinating and would recommend other students to do work experience with a political party. “Many young people feel detached from politics but my week has boosted my interest and engagement as I now better understand the functioning of parties and local politics. I also learned lots about the Green Party nationally and the functioning of the House of Lords, which boosted my interest in Parliament. All this has made me eager to participate in elections and get involved in my community, things which I might not have done otherwise.”
Pippa hasn’t yet decided what career to pursue but said her work experience gave her knowledge that would be useful in any career – such as how meetings are carried out and how work is delegated in a team. “The opportunity to participate in meetings allowed me to gain confidence, and I now feel a lot more confident in my ability to present in front of people and interact with people I don’t know. It also allowed me to develop my writing skills and meet some incredibly friendly and interesting people.”