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Cwmbran teenager leads debate in House of Commons

A student from Cwmbran led a debate in the House of Commons this week.

Abi Edwards, a former Croesyceiliog School pupil, studies A-levels in politics, law, history and the Extended Project Qualification at Hereford Sixth Form College and represents Torfaen as the county’s representative on the UK Youth Parliament.

She was called up by Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, to lead the debate titled: ‘Every single person deserves to be treated fairly and with respect.’

The 18-year-old said:  “I have always been interested in politics and law. The most important part of democracy is every single person being able to have a voice. As young people our voices and opinions are often neglected so by having a Youth Parliament, we can have a voice on the issues that are so important to us. I am the current UK Youth Parliament member for Torfaen.

“I also chair the Torfaen Youth Forum. This has given me many opportunities such as working with the Grange University Hospital, Gwent Regional Forums, the police, schools and helped prepare me for being a debate lead in the House of Commons. For a few years, I’ve had support from Rhiannon Bennett who oversees the Youth Forum and I am grateful for her continued support and guidance. She is a credit to Torfaen and helped me secure this amazing opportunity. I am forever thankful.

“I have applied to read law at university and have already received an offer. After university I want to qualify as a criminal barrister and I feel my politics experience will help with this.

young people stood with Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons
Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons with Youth Parliament members who led debates this week (Photo credit: UK Youth Parliament)

“Before the coronavirus pandemic every year there would be a Youth Parliament debate in the House of Commons. During the pandemic this was not possible, therefore November 2022 saw the return of the Youth Parliament. Every Youth MP is invited to come together to debate the issues that matter to us and our constituencies and to call for change.

“There is also one debate lead to represent each region of the UK with only one representative from the whole of Wales. I sent in a practice speech about education and the need for reformation. This was then sent out with other candidates’ application and voting began. Whilst I have public speaking experience, I did not expect to be elected to represent Wales in Parliament as the debate lead. I was actually the debate lead of the first topic too which was incredible.

“We were all assigned topics to debate. I expressed how damaging discrimination is and its impact on health. This debate is very important to me and my constituency. With homophobia, sexism and racism so prevalent in my constituency it was an honour to talk against it.

“I want to live in a society where every single person is treated with respect, no matter of their race, gender, sexuality or any other protected characteristic.”

“One of the reasons I decided to attend a sixth form/college outside of Torfaen was due to the horrific discrimination in our area. I hope that my actions can change this and we can live in a community where every single person is treated with respect. I hope schools in Torfaen can work to end discrimination so every single person feels comfortable and safe in school. Schools must do better. We as a community must do better. I have hope for the future and that is why it was an honour to represent Torfaen and Wales by being the Welsh debate lead.

“During the day I was selected to take part in a BBC Politics interview and an interview for the Department for
Digital, Culture, Media & Sport for the government.”

Watch Abi’s speech in the House of Commons

Watch the debate of the UK Youth Parliament

Click here to watch Abi’s interview with BBC Politics.

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Posted inNews

Cwmbran teenager leads debate in House of Commons

a teenager leads a debate in parliament
Abi in the House of Commons (Photo credit: UK Youth Parliament)