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Dixons Academies Trust

Dixons students represent at the Convention of the North

Posted 8th March 2024

Students from Dixons academies attended the Convention of the North earlier this month, where they spoke on issues affecting them and called for asks on key policy areas.

The Convention of the North is sponsored by the Northern regional mayors. This year, it aimed to put together a manifesto for the North in advance of the general election.

For the first time, young people were invited and placed at the centre of the event; each panel workshop kicked off with a presentation from young people, and two students, including one from Dixons Unity Academy, opened the second day of the convention with a keynote address in the main hall to 800 delegates.

The contribution of young people to the event was organised by Citizens UK; the young leaders chosen were representative of their schools and communities and had previously done work to listen to the views and concerns of their peers, so they were speaking with a representative voice. Schools from across our trust and its different regions participated, including two from Leeds, two from Bradford and one from Manchester.

Chiedza from Dixons Unity Academy, Leeds said during her speech:

"BAME teenage girls need more non-for-profit organisations for mental health to come from council funding, and they need acknowledgement. Around 20% of young people have access to drugs and alcohol, leading to misuse; smoking in pregnancy rates are higher in Leeds than national rates and are significantly higher amongst girls who are under 18 years of age at the time of delivery."

As well as speaking at the event, our students were fortunate to meet with a number of politicians and changemakers during the convention.

Students from Dixons Brooklands Academy in Manchester held a bilateral meeting with Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester. Similarly, in West Yorkshire, Dixons Trinity Academy and Dixons Unity Academy students, from Bradford and Leeds respectively, spoke to Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire around issues affecting young people in the area. Students from Dixons Trinity Chapeltown in Leeds met with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Bradford students also had the opportunity to speak with Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, about the progress that has been made in Bradford to support young people’s mental health. Mental health was an issue raised with Jim McMahon, Shadow Minister for Local Government, where transport for young people as well as votes at 16 were discussed. The students raised sensitively the current situation in Gaza which Mr McMahon acknowledged was very important to young people and discussed parliament’s call for a ceasefire in more detail.

We recognise and appreciate the time politicians took out to meet with our students and listen to their views. We have seen strong progress on the mental health agenda for young people following our campaign thanks to the support of Susan Hinchcliffe, demonstrating that empowering our young people to have a voice to challenge on issues that affect them is incredibly important.

Read the full press release from Citizens UK here.