Posted: 14 October 2015

Seriously Awkward campaign goes to party conferences

Anne Milton MP for Guildford 

You might have seen in the news, that over the past couple of weeks, some of the political parties have been holding their annual conferences.

These are where MPs, Peers, Councillors and party members meet to discuss policy. The conferences are a great opportunity for charities like us to meet with decision makers and influence their policy.

Sharon Hogson MP

Sharon Hogson MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Children’s Minister with campaigner Andy Soar (courtesy of Gus Campbell Photography)

This year we decided to hold a stall at Labour and Conservative conferences to raise awareness of our Seriously Awkward campaign with politicians.

Andrew Stephenson MP

Andrew Stephenson MP for Pendle with The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Matthew Reed

To encourage parliamentarians to visit  our campaign stall,  our supporters emailed their MPs and asked them to come along and find out more about the Seriously Awkward campaign. Lucky, for us, plenty did.

'There’s so much going on at [party conferences] that it’s often hard to prioritise but having a few constituents contact me about a specific campaign always helps my team make sure it’s at the top of the pile.' – Conservative MP

Robert Harlow MP

Robert Halfon MP for Harlow and Cabinet Office Minister with Chief Executive Matthew Reed and Local and Public Affairs Officer Lucy Capron

We had a lot of really useful conversations. We spoke to police and crime commissioners about supporting our call to extend police powers for child sexual exploitation. We talked to council’s safeguarding leads about service provision for 16 and 17 year olds. We even got MPs to sign up to amendments we’re asking for in the Housing Bill to protect homeless teens.

Sarah Newton MP

Sarah Newton MP for Truro and Falmouth and Government Whip with Public Affairs Officer Jake McLeod

Education Secretary says 16 and 17 year olds have ‘potential’

A particularly influential meeting was with the Secretary of State for Education and chair of the government’s child protection committee, The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP. We only got a few minutes with Nicky because she’s so busy but she was really interested in the campaign and we said we’d follow up with her after.

When asked to pick a word to describe 16 and 17 year olds, Nicky chose ‘potential’. We agree with the Secretary of State; older teens are full of potential and with the right support they can really thrive.

You can help – sign our petition

Our Seriously Awkward campaign calls on the Government to ensure that 16 and 17 year olds are offered proper protection and support to thrive and stay safe.

By Jake Mcleod - Policy team
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