The journey into a career as an MP can be a difficult one. The Speaker spoke to Ribia Nisa, aspiring politician, and she shared her tips, thoughts and opinions on the best way into Parliament, as well as telling her personal story and goals.
- How and when did you become interested in politics?
When I was younger, I was always interested in helping people and getting involved in the local community, so volunteered with various charities such as RSPA. At the age of 18, I was approached by one of my tutors who recommended that I should get involved in the Student Union, I ran my first political campaign within my College and was elected Vice President. I was the voice of my fellow students, and the experience made me realise the importance of politics and how it can have larger implication on communities and improve lives. During this period, I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie Abrahams Labour MP for Oldham and Saddleworth Constituency. Thereafter, Debbie became my role model and aspired me to continue working hard in giving back to the community. I was invited by Debbie to attend Summer School learning about the impact of politics, which provided me insight into the life of a politician and hard work that is required to support the communities.
- What advice would you offer for young people wanting to work in government?
I would advise that if you are in school, college or university get involved in a Student Union, this will help you to build confidence and understand how democracy works on a smaller scale. I would also recommend that you become a member of a political party to help you focus your energy on causes that are important to you. The other option is to get in contact with your local Member of Parliament, they are always looking for volunteers to help out. This will give you the opportunity to build contacts, trust, friends with similar interests and most importantly give you an understanding on how the politics works.
- How can people get involved in politics, without working in the sector?
Of course, the greatest way to get involved is to vote! I speak to many youngsters that would say my vote will not have any impact or what is the point. We need to get out of this mindset, our vote has a direct impact on politics, collectively we can elect a Government that can make policies and laws that we agree with. So, please always VOTE and get your friends and family to vote too. Your contribution and commitment to politics does not have to be large, a few hours a week is enough – local MPs are always looking for support from volunteers no matter how big or small.
- What steps are you taking to try and make your dream of becoming an MP true?
My main aim is to support my local communities, therefore, I am getting involved in any volunteering opportunities that are available such as litter picking. I also go door knocking to ask members of the community for ideas on how we can improve our area and I always try to work on the suggested ideas. I am also a member of Labour Party, and we have monthly meetings where we discuss local issues and how we can resolve them. This allows me full access to the Local Party and provides me very useful insight into the issues faced by other party members. Due to my commitment to the Party, I have been elected as the BAME Coordinator (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and Delegate to Cheshire East Local Forum. I believe that these small steps are helping me build trust within my community and the Party to one day run as MP and be successful.
- Do you think that, in order to become a politician, one should study politics or any other particular subject at university?
No, you do not necessarily have to study politics or any particular subject at university. I believe that the Parliament should have diversity and should be a true representation of the communities, such as teachers, lawyers, builders or doctors. I have not studied politics and I still aspire to be a politician. You just need to have the determination and will-power to improve lives of people in your local community.
- Has social media played a big role in increasing young people’s interest in politics?
Yes, of course, I do not know of any young person that does not have Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The majority of the young adults get their news from social media, therefore it plays a very important role in getting young adults involved and interested in politics. I believe that politicians who are utilising these platforms come across more open and approachable by young adults, hence why I have started to use these platforms to build my profile.
- Why should young people be keeping up to date with what’s happening in the world of politics?
Politics plays an important part in our life. Politicians are elected/employed by us and are responsible for making laws and deciding on policies that impact us all in our daily lives such as study grants available to student or University Fees. As we are the employers of the politicians, it is our job to keep up to date to ensure that they are doing their job by fulfilling the promises, therefore, it is very important that we are aware of our political environment as Knowledge is Power!
Follow Ribia’s continuing journey into politics by following her on social media at @ribianisa_mp on Twitter and Instagram.
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