Voting as a political and social act is often something we consider to be part and parcel of everyday life. In fact, we have become so accustomed to voting that a culture of apathy has grown around the act. Yet, you often hear that young Somali-British don’t care about politics- but that’s certainly not true of this group.
The Local Government Elections were held on Thursday 3 May 2018. Communities got active in canvassing, councillors got out to campaign with their local MP’s and everyone made their case for how they’d improve their neighbourhoods for the better.
Meanwhile, two of our young participants currently taking part in our Lead and Be Led programme, got out in Islington with the councillor Rakhia Ismail. Councillor Rakhia was re-elected in her Holloway ward and Hikma Adan and Hassan Abdullah joined her to support her campaign.
The Lead and Be Led programme encourage young people to develop their personal and professional leadership skills through a range of confidence-building activities. Over the past few months, we have seen our young people take up new opportunities during the course of the programme including lucrative university summer programmes, job opportunities and increased local community engagement.
Councillor Rakhia Ismail said:
“Hikma and Hassan were amazing, are both natural communicators, impressive, hard-working, and inspired other young Somalis to join the canvassing.”
Hikma is currently studying her A-Levels at college and found the experience to be a useful insight into the local politics which many people might find not very interesting which its decisions affect our everyday life!
“Politics has always been an interest of mine. I’ve always wanted to be involved in the local community and be more hands on. This opportunity provided by Anti-Tribalism Movement is a way for me to get involved and have a contribution to the democratic voting system in the UK.”
Hassan has just completed his final year studying for a politics degree and it was also his first-time canvassing.
“I found canvassing to be really fun and I hope I convinced non–voters to go out and vote.”
It’s refreshing to see that both Hikma and Hassan learnt how the local election is being run and develop skill in public speaking, campaigning and building confidence.
Hassan added: “Canvassing is a great opportunity to meet a wide range of voters and speak with them about the issues that matter to them and is a great way to practice public speaking”
Hassan believes his “listening skills have improved” as the experience was certainly out of his comfort zone and gave him a “boost of confidence”.
“It was indeed fun, inspiring, and completely empowering,” He says.
The leaders of tomorrow are cultivated today, Lead and Be Led is more than just a fantastic project for our young people who are the leaders of tomorrow — and it is both moving and inspiring to see young people using their leadership skills and getting active in their communities.
The outcome of this canvassing has made one thing clear: Hikma and Hassan showcased an immense ability to speak and use the tools learnt during the program and magnified their confidence in public speaking and critical thinking which are the bedrock to developing these young minds.
The quotes in this article were edited for length and clarity.
The Lead and Be Led programme is two-year programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund. This summer we’re looking forward to hosting an employment fair and various engagement meetings for our young leaders to connect with different organisations and companies in the country. If you would like to find out more information or collaborate in some way please email Faiza Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org