MKC Heroes put Plymouth MPs in the hot seat during a visit to the Council House.

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Published on January 14th, 2019 | by Pete Ogburn

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MKC Heroes put Plymouth MPs in the hot seat during a visit to the Council House.   On 11th January 2019, the children of MKC Heroes had the chance to put their local MPs in the hot seat during a visit to the Council House in Plymouth City Centre. At the Council house, the members [&hellip

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MKC Heroes put Plymouth MPs in the hot seat during a visit to the Council House.

 

On 11th January 2019, the children of MKC Heroes had the chance to put their local MPs in the hot seat during a visit to the Council House in Plymouth City Centre.

At the Council house, the members of MKC Heroes  met with three MPs, Johnny Mercer, Sir Gary Streeter and Luke Pollard where they were asked a variety of questions. They were joined by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Sam Davey, and Councilor’s Pauline Murphy, Plymouth Armed Forces Champion, and Jon Taylor, the Cabinet Member responsible for Education.

Attending the event were over 100 children from more than 30 schools across the city who came prepared with many questions to pose to the MPs. The questions asked by the children varied from the topic of single use plastics within the UK to the mental health provisions for young people and service families.

Leading the event were MKC Heroes Ambassadors, Maddison Watkins and Spike Davis, who were prompting the school children to raise their questions to the MPs. Other Ambassadors also attended and contributed to the event, supporting and escorting the MPs where necessary.

The questioning session was started by Ambassador Jack Clevett, aged 13. His first question asked the MPs to explain why they supported the report ‘Kin and Country’ which was about the lives of service children. This report only used 40 children to make the statement that it did, and he wanted to find out why the Children’s Commissioner did not ask the children from MKC Heroes.

Our MP, Johnny Mercer, chose to answer this question explaining why he thinks this was and said, “The children’s commissioner does her best and she engages with as many as she can, and I am sorry she did not speak to you on this occasion”. He later stated, “You have to remember 10 years ago these things didn’t exist, so we are making progress, but I accept we have a long way to go”.

Further questions which were put forward discussed the topic of mental health and the provisions available to service and veteran’s children whilst their family member is on deployment. Luke Pollard suggested that he was “aware of the issue of mental health and that schools should be putting provisions in place” however he knows that more should be done. Other questions regarding upcoming support for the military in 2019 were asked and questions about the amount of student accommodation compared to the amount of homeless people were also raised by the school children.

The problem regarding the poor quality of service houses was also mentioned by the school children which the MPs found very interesting. As ex-military himself, Mercer had a huge opinion on this. He explained that “I left the military ultimately to go into politics because I was fed up with how this country treated its military” and suggested that he has tried to work on this issue during his time in parliament.

“I think things like MKC Heroes are fantastic in the support we provide to young people in that respect is good. But the housing is not good enough and is no where near good enough”.

Softer questions were also put forward by the younger members of MKC heroes during the event. The MPs were asked what their favourite subjects were whilst they were at school and the answer’s they gave varied significantly. Streeter’s favourite was Languages, where he really enjoyed Latin, whereas Pollard and Mercer both enjoyed sport, however they also enjoyed English and Geography.

A significant question which struck Gary Streeter was regarding children who are moving around the UK and going to different schools whilst their family members are on deployment. The children suggested that when they move schools, they may have previously been taught a different curriculum and may miss out on certain topics. Gary was surprised by this question and mentioned that “I cannot remember ever being asked this” and wanted to reassure the children that if they were experiencing this to contact him.

Gary also said: “A point that made its impact on me is the fact that if you change schools quite frequently then you may have to try again when you are halfway through the curriculum and this is something we will have to look into”.

Unfortunately for the MPs, there was no escape from the word which is commonly being used everywhere at this moment in time, Brexit. Pupils from a local secondary school asked the three members of parliament about the impact on armed forces families after Brexit and whether anything will happen to them. It was said that the impact is likely to be small and it is unlikely to affect them too greatly.

The politicians had superb things to say about Plymouth and its support of military children stating that “Plymouth is leading the way with engaging with families”. This is extremely positive as MKC Heroes is being recognised by those who sit within the Houses of Parliament which can really make a difference!

Sir Gary Streeter was really impressed with the session within the chambers and said: “Well it’s been great to listen to brilliant questions today from the people of Plymouth.” He also said that “Overwhelmingly it is the positive, vibrant nature of the kids today which leaves a very positive impression”.

This very special event at the Council House was brilliant for the service and military children within the city. Many of their questions were answered thoroughly by the MPs who very kindly took their time to meet with them. They were surprised by the topics and questions which were raised by the children, making them more aware of their concerns and what the children would like to be done in the future.

 

By Rebecca Hocking- Student Journalist


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