Thought-provoking debates during equality and diversity week

Published: February 19, 2019

Students got the chance to question politicians of all colours on a range of national issues during a Brexit hustings event on campus.

Telford College invited representatives to speak on Britain’s departure from the European Union, as part of a week-long programme of equality and diversity-themed activities.

Students prepared questions in advance for the panel, who answered each question before the room was opened up for individual questions from the students.

Rebecca Anderson, an A Level Social Sciences student who supports leaving the EU, said: “I think the event was really useful but my opinion that we should leave has not changed. It has only strengthened. It is the best thing for us to do.”

The hustings event | Telford College
Photo credit: The Shropshire Star | The hustings event | Telford College

Meanwhile Belinda Ezdeazu, a Foundation student in Health and Social Care, said: “I still stand with Remain because ‘united we stand, divided we fall’. The UK thrives from EU nationals, with a lot of UK people unwilling to do jobs EU nationals do.”

The panel featured Jacqueline Seymour, a Conservative Telford & Wrekin Councillor, and Peter Bradley, who served as the Labour MP for the Wrekin for eight years.

Also featured were Matthew Green of the Liberal Democrats, plus Pat McCarthy of the Green Party and Bill Gilmour of UKIP.

They were all quizzed by the students on four pre-prepared questions:

  • How will article 13 impact on UK if we leave the EU?
  • If parliament subverts the leave decision from June 2016, what confidence do we have in democracy?
  • What impact will Brexit have on the NHS?
  • With the announcement of job losses at Nissan Sunderland, what is the opinion of the panel on the future of the UK job market post-Brexit?.

Dan Blasczyk, enrichment co-ordinator at the college who helped organise the event, said: “It was a well-balanced debate with seemingly half of the room of the opinion that we should leave.

“It is important to engage young people in Brexit issues because it will affect them most.”

One of the other highlights of the week-long programme was a visit to the college from human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, best known for his work with LGBT social movements.

He said: “LGBT have made great strides in the last two decades, with the repeal of over a dozen major anti-gay laws. But there are still issues to resolve. A third of LGBT people have been victims of homophobic hate crime and 45% of LGBT pupils in schools have suffered bullying.

Manny Uppal, Peter Tatchell, Dan Blasczyk, Daihak Singh, and Lindsey Ellis | Telford College

Manny Uppal, Peter Tatchell, Dan Blasczyk, Daihak Singh, and Lindsey Ellis | Telford College

“It was a great honour to speak at Telford College. The pupils were engaged and asked perceptive, intelligent questions.”

Telford College student president Manny Uppal said: “Peter was inspirational to listen to, and I believe his words do inspire young people.

“His talk gave me an insight of how the LGBT had grown in our society and in the modern 21st century, and also a bit more information on what happened back in the day if you got discovered to be part of the LGBT community.

“Peter told us of his struggles and how he dealt with them – he’s an inspiration to the LGBT community. and to society.”

Dan Blasczyk added: “I’m delighted that Peter came into the college and shared a number of his successful campaigns with the students. Many of the students in attendance could relate to what Peter discussed and voiced that they felt inspired by the talk.”