My name is Abdul Mateen Riaz and I am the MYP of Redbridge. In this newsletter I would like to share with you my experience of the House of Commons Sitting and how I was fortunate enough to speak in the House of Commons and let my voice be heard across the nation.

Before I begin, I would like to inform you why I was given the opportunity to go and participate in the House of Commons Sitting. In early February 2022, I was elected as the Member of Youth Parliament for Redbridge. My fellow peers elected me to become the MYP and represent Redbridge. 12,357 young people between the ages of 11 and 18 from 28 schools and organisations voted in the election (according to the Redbridge Youth Council website). Furthermore, I was up against a lot of competition – there were 96 candidates in total and only 2 could become the next MYPs. I had to make a manifesto showing people why I should be the next MYP, my manifesto consisted of three points. My first promise was to aim to raise awareness and provide information about help and response to homelessness, my second pledge was to aim to arrange career choice workshops as well as promoting work shadowing, and finally my third promise was to educate and help people about knife crime and campaign for more extracurricular activities. The role of the MYP has given me the platform to further the topics I feel strongly about.

On 4th November 2022, all the MYPS in the UK were invited to the House of Commons Sitting to debate what the national campaign for 2023 will be. We were going to be debating on 5 topics which were decided by the latest Make your Mark reports. These 5 topics include: Impact of Discrimination on Health, The Environment and Health, Education and Health, The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Health and Mental Health. When I was told that I would be taking part in this I was over the moon and felt like a dog with two tails.

On the day I wore my smart and immaculate clothes ready for the debate. Once we arrived inside the House of Commons the place was bustling, there were BBC reporters interviewing other MYPS, Staff rushing from place to place showing us where to place our belongings and there were people chatting amiably with each other. I met MYPS from Kent, Barnet, Slough, and many more. Once everything was ready we started the debate.

Mr Speaker started the day off by showing his appreciation and gratitude towards us for our presence and we responded with a loud round of applause. This was the first sitting after 3 years (the 2020 and 2021 sittings were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The first debate started and the topic was the impact of discrimination on health. This is what I prepared for, the topic which I felt the most strongly for. Mr Speaker would kindly point to the person who would be speaking next and as soon as that person finished speaking we would stand up so Mr Speaker was aware we wanted to speak. Approximately,80 MYPs stood up at a time and only one was chosen to speak. One of the MYPs finished speaking and I stood in a flash, not believing my eyes when Mr Speaker pointed right at me. Now it was my time to shine.

Confidently as I ever could be I stood up and could not suppress a wide smile. I cleared my throat and began to speak. I talked about how discrimination in health is primarily caused by health inequalities which are ultimately about differences in the status of people’s health. I clearly highlighted that people from an ethnic minority are less likely to receive the treatment they deserve and how they suffer because of this. As soon as I finished I slowly sat down while my fellow honourable MYPs applauded me, once I sat down I knew my parents were watching and I couldn’t stop thinking how proud they would be of me.

I am really fortunate to be able to attend the House of Commons Sitting and be able to talk and I wish other people will get this wonderful opportunity. In the future, I would like to become the Prime Minister, so this is a big positive step in the right direction!