Former Telford College student takes campaign to the United Nations

Published: April 10, 2019
More than 10,000 miles from Shropshire, a small group of islands in the Pacific ocean are battling for official recognition by the United Nations – and a former Telford College student is at the heart of the campaign. Ben Brickley, from Broseley, became the youngest ever executive board member of the London-based political think-tank Parliament Street, when he was appointed in December 2017. One of his first major tasks has been to work with officials from the Norfolk Islands, a former British colony between Australia and New Zealand, on their campaign for recognition. The islands are currently part of Australia, but residents want to be recognised as an independent nation with political links to New Zealand, like the Cook Islands.

Ben said: “I have helped Norfolk Islands in their campaign for self-determination by going with them to the United Nations Court of Human Rights, helping represent their case so that they can have a voice in the international community. The case is currently being discussed.

“There is hope for the people of the Norfolk Islands - hope that they can keep their cultural identity, hope that they can negotiate a deal with New Zealand, and hope that they can once again form a government to lead the islands towards a brighter future.

“Myself and the rest of Parliament Street will be working tirelessly to support and promote the Norfolk Islands in order to make this future possible.”

He added: “Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of seeing and understanding the unique and beautiful culture of the Islands. It is a mixture of two cultures, which brings together the Tahitian and English history of the island.

With US Ambassador Robert Johnson at the US Embassy in London.

“A lot of current residents have British ancestry, which is why the people of the Norfolk Islands should not be ignored by the United Kingdom.

“With Brexit negotiations ongoing, we should be looking towards a new image for Britain, and show the international community that we will stand up for the self-determination of others, just like we have done for ourselves.”

Norfolk Islands are the not the only overseas territories on Ben’s radar. In addition to his Parliament Street position, he is also a British overseas territories adviser to the European parliament, and policy officer for the government of Gibraltar.

It is all a far cry from the public services courses which 23-year-old Ben completed at Telford College before heading to university – but he says they taught him some key skills which he still uses today.

“I believe that the public services qualification at Telford College gave me the discipline needed to pursue my ambitions,” he said.

“The values of this course, and the ability of tutors to push students to their full potential, have helped shape and guide me to the path that I am currently on.”

It wasn’t long after leaving Telford College that Ben, a former student of William Brookes School in Much Wenlock, found a new campaigning role.

While studying for a degree in criminology, he was elected to the executive committee of the student union where he helped to create new policies, and organise events to help deal with the stress of higher education.

He said: “During my second year of university I was offered an internship with the United States Embassy in London. It was during this time that I started a youth group called Young Leaders UK, to connect young British students with American business leaders, motivational speakers and politicians.

“Our most successful event was in 2016 when the former US president Barack Obama met with us and gave an inspiring talk to the members about how they can engage in political change.”

At the end of his internship, Ben worked as chief of staff for Hendon MP Matthew Offord, helping to draft constituency policy, and attending regular meetings centred around healthcare and prison reform.

Craig Stockman, from the public services team at Telford College, said: “It’s great to see Ben making his way in such high-profile roles.

“His career path illustrates the wide range of opportunities which our level two and three programmes can open up.

“We always say that these courses can be a dream come true for many people, offering opportunities to travel. The teamwork and discipline which our students learn on our programmes are hugely transferable and valuable skills.”

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