FURNESS Academy students visited the Barrow Town Hall to present for the town council.

A group of students took part in the final of Furness Academy’s UK Parliament Week ‘Design a Bill Challenge’ and presented three ideas for the Mayor and the town councillors.

Furness Academy, part of Furness Education Trust, have sought ways that young people can learn more about the democratic process and share issues that they are passionate about.

MP Simon Fell met with students to help them prepare their ideas.

On the morning of October 22, three groups attended an event at Barrow Town Hall, where they were hosted by Mayor Helen Wall and the Town Hall Steward, Linda McEwan.

The students were there to host a mini “mock parliament” and present their bills one final time in the decadent setting of Barrow Town Hall. Madame Mayor introduced all of the bills and spoke highly of the eloquence and professionalism demonstrated by the students.

Mental Health Support

Students presented facts on the proliferation of mental health difficulties in the wake of COVID-19 and asked that the government make it mandatory for adequate, plentiful support within school for those who have mental health needs. They spoke about the importance of having counsellors based in schools and the need for early support.

Youth Volunteer Events Programmes

This group spoke about the need for a ‘one stop’ avenue for students to be able to access volunteering opportunities in local areas. They advocated the use of a website on which providers from industry and public services could post or advertise for work experience, part time work and, most importantly, for volunteering experience. They argued that many teenagers are motivated, active and caring and would love to be able to sign up to a platform which allowed them to find a place in the local area to hone their skills and to give to local communities, making a difference.

Ending period Poverty

This group argued that too many women miss work days or school days due to being unable to afford period products. They advocated for better awareness of the issue, and support where necessary.

Miss Wildman, Assistant Headteacher, who accompanied the students on the visit, said “It was spell-binding.

"The students’ performances were outstanding. Our idea was that we could replicate the processes of parliament in this country, with the proposed bills being “read” at different levels, and the rigorous judgement process that a bill must go through.

“We knew we were aiming to hold the final in the Town Hall’s council chamber, but to see the students in that magnificent space, using the same podiums that are used to decide the business of the local authority, was one of those experiences which sends tingles down your spine.

“We are also deeply grateful to Madame Mayor for spending so much time with us, sharing conversations with the group and showing us around the historic setting.

"The students were awestruck, being surrounded by so much history. They’ve learned so much about democracy and about the Town Hall itself.”

Mayor Helen Wall said: "It was absolutely outstanding and they spoke with such passion and dedication.

“The topics were really well presented and it showed the amazing hard work they had put in to each topic.

“It is so important to include young people in the democratic progress and to increase their understanding of what is going on in society.

“They were all such lovely children.

“Later we gave them a guided tour of the hall and even some of them got to try on some of the robes. Left them with the question what would they do if they were Mayor?”