As you might already know, a key priority for me this year is encouraging young people to engage in democracy.
I've been having a lot of conversations with Kirklees Council, local Councillors and Members of Parliament discussing the importance of youth in democracy and of nurturing young leaders. As part of this work, I haven't just been talking to students at the University of Huddersfield but also to young people studying at local colleges.
Last week myself and our Academic Rep Programme Manager met with a number of Reps and Officers from Kirklees College. It was all about understanding their motivations and worries, and what they'd like to see for youth in Huddersfield in the future. We had some great discussions and powerful conversations with some incredibly talented students who love learning, value extracurricular activities, and are (like our Academic Reps) navigating their own journeys through education whilst also being a voice for their peers.
From a diverse range of backgrounds, courses and trajectories, the young people we met spoke with conviction and pride about the importance of representation, and about all they could do to benefit other students whilst also working towards their own futures.
What we took away from the session, more than anything, was how powerful young people can be when they - when we - come together, the importance of sharing stories and personal experiences, and of finding strength in our uniqueness. These students demonstrated so much empathy and understanding of those they were representing - even those who didn't necessarily look like them, have many shared experiences or circumstances. This is something we're constantly working to emulate through the Students' Union and in our Academic Reps.
Everyone in the room was looking forwards, whether that meant higher education or employment, to what they could do and where they could go next - and, most importantly, how they could influence change in the world around them. Should we be lucky enough to meet and work with them in years to come, the future of Huddersfield is looking bright to me!
To those talented students at Kirklees College who took part in the discussions: thank you for your time, and for reminding us of what's at the heart of our Students' Union!
To those studying at the University of Huddersfield: if you feel passionate about making positive change, or about acting as a voice for your peers, make sure you get involved in our Academic Rep programme. Find out more here.