Students got a taste of the workings of the Commonwealth at a unique opportunity to replicate the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) at Media City, Salford, Manchester. The event is part of a Post CHOGM Roadshow of events across the UK.
Up to 60 young people took on the roles of leaders from across the 53 member countries at a Model CHOGM mock summit, with an agenda focused on finding innovative solutions to development challenges faced by young people.
In its fourth edition, Lawrence Muli from the Youth Division of the Commonwealth welcomed the students, following previous similar events in London, Glasgow, and Leicester.
“The idea is to ensure that we can hear innovative new solutions and ideas on tackling development challenges from emerging generations that can get to influence our work, change the way we view and do our programming in the Commonwealth,” he said.
The initiative is in partnership with the Youth Charter, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Commonwealth Resounds, British Youth Council, and Elevation Networks among other partners.
The students took part in a series of debates on issues ranging from youth opportunities, youth unemployment, job creation and access to opportunity and personal development.
They experienced first-hand how lobbying, debating and handling media is done at the CHOGM level.
Geoff Thompson of the Youth Charter said: “I think it's vital and critical that young future citizens of the Commonwealth and the world are given an opportunity to understand the rights and responsibilities that reflect how they play a part in shaping the world that they will inherit.”
Helen Jones from the Royal Commonwealth Society said “the event allows the Commonwealth family to engage with students and hear their perspectives on priority issues facing the Commonwealth.”
Students also had sessions on respect and understanding, social cohesion and interfaith understanding and the issue of violent extremism.
Faith-Rose Ansah of the Elevation Networks said: “I believe in having more opportunities like this to have conversations, to share ideas and share solutions and be more practical about the solutions… so that people will be able to go out and actually do something practical.”
The students identified key solutions and aspirations to be prioritised by the Commonwealth in tackling the diverse development challenges faced by Commonwealth countries.