"ParliaMentors stands out in its uniqueness. Young people making real change" Baroness Williams of Trafford

There are now over 350 members of the ParliaMentors Alumni network, all of whom have completed inspirational social action projects that really affected the lives of those who they touched. Since then members of the network have gone on to become, social activists internationally including the UK, USA, Germany, South Africa, authors, lawyers at city firms including Allen and Overy, Eversheds & Linklaters, accountants at KPMG, EY & PWC , civil servants, teachers, councillors and members of Parliaments around the world. Here are the stories of just a few of them. 

Joe Taylor

University of Birmingham 2013 – 2014

I can honestly say that this programme did not disappoint at all in exceeding all of my expectations!

I ran a project with my fellow ParliaMentors called ‘Young Brum Time’ – a political debate aimed at apathetic students within Birmingham. Our panel of MPs, MEPs and student representatives debated issues that students cared most about; employment, EU and Islamophobia, whilst answering questions from the audience.

My mentor was Stephen Doughty MP for Cardiff South and Penarth. Stephen, like all the MP Mentors, was passionate and willing to help us in any way he could. I was able to shadow Stephen in London as well as spend a week’s work placement at his constituency office in Cardiff- which was fantastic. I am now on National Graduate Development Programme and my Parliamentors experience was a key motivation behind me selecting this scheme.

Jamie Cater

University of Nottingham 2011 – 2012

ParliaMentors appealed to me because I wanted to explore further how my faith and politics interact with each other, and learn more about how different faiths can work together to achieve common goals.

In my team we organised an interactive exhibition on homelessness in the city of Nottingham. It provided a real insight into some of the social and economic difficulties that so many people experience but was something to which we were rarely exposed as students living in the university bubble.

I was mentored by Lilian Greenwood MP, who was fantastic. We were able to sit in on a meeting of Labour’s transport team, thanks to Lilian’s role as Shadow Rail Minister. This offered a fascinating, behind-the-scenes view of how policy is discussed and agreed among front bench teams. I went on to study for an MA in International Relations and am now working for a political consultancy in Westminster.

Gulwali Passarlay

University of Manchester 2014 – 2015

There were many reasons why I was keen to participate in ParliaMentors but the idea of work with multi-faith students from across the country attracted me the most. This was such an unique idea. While on the programme I learnt a great deal about different faiths, social action projects but more so about myself and the way I work in a team.

My mentor MP was John Leech, the mentoring experience was useful and helpful. We are invited to a select committee hearing and given an insight to an MP’s daily life. The whole programme was inspiring and exciting as it was really about leadership. I was glad to have graduated from ParliaMentors and looking back at how much we achieved in short time as an individual and collaborating in a group.

After ParliaMentors I wrote the book of my journey to the UK after being forced to fell Afghanistan, “The Lightless Sky: An Afghan Refugee Boy’s Journey,” which is published by Atlantic Books.

Giselle Agyare

University of Nottingham 2012 – 2013

I applied for the programme because it incorporated two importan elements in my life my faith and my passion for politics. My mentor was Lilian Greenwood MP and I had a great mentoring experience. Given that I was interested in women’s issues, it was interesting to get Lilian’s perspective on women in politics, which she was very open about and gave me insight into the practicalities.

After graduating from ParliaMentors, I went on to complete my degree in Politics at the University of Nottingham, before joining the National Graduate Development Programme.

Claire Carey

University of Salford 2014 – 2015

I wanted the opportunity to develop a social action project and be involved in an interfaith programme. ParliaMentors gave me key skills around employability, facilitating workshops and one to one mentoring.

My mentor was Yasmin Qureshi MP who provided a very positive experience, offered us her wealth of experience, ideas and we were able to accompany her to a visit to Westminster.

My favourite moment was an on-going interfaith dialogue between participants and being awarded the Mayors ‘Pride of Salford’ recognition award. Following my time on ParliaMentors I travelled to Uganda to volunteer for a month at a maternal health facility.

Bansri Buddhdev

University of Leeds 2013 – 2014

I’m passionate about political engagement I wanted to gain the insights from an MP through the mentorship on the programme as well as talking to students at schools about the political process and to lobby MPs to agree that there should be more political education. I learnt loads about lobbying MPs and about my own public speaking skills from ParliaMentors.

Since graduating from ParliaMentors I interned at Hilary Benn’s and Lorely Burt’s office. I have also worked in Congress in America in Congressman Bobby Rush’s office, I now work for in policy and communications for PACT the trade association representing UK independent television, film, digital, children’s and animation media companies.

Blessing Denhere

University of Coventry 2015 – 2016

I was attracted to join the ParliaMentors programme because of its tremendous prestige, the chance to improve my leadership skills and work with people from different faiths and beliefs.

Our team helped foreign students get to know Coventry better and settle in more easily. This was an issue close to us as we had foreign students in our team.

It was great to be able to help foreign students engage with all that Coventry had to offer and it was inspiring to have support from local businesses, religious communities and voluntary organisations

Richard Huddleson

University of Salford 2013 – 2014

Coming from the North of Ireland, where religion is manipulated to create social division, I was interested in meeting other young people from very different faith backgrounds which ParliaMentors provided.

Our social action project focused on migration. We held a photographic exhibition in Media City to highlight the different forces (political, personal and environmental) that push people to seek a better life elsewhere.

Our mentor was Alex Cunningham, the Labour MP for Stockton North. I now work as a translator and interpreter.

Richard Mayne

Warwick University 2013 – 2014

As somebody who has rarely had the chance to mix with and discuss religious issues with people from different background yet has always been interested in doing so, the opportunity that ParliaMentors presented to me was invaluable and it did not disappoint.

My team devised and carried out a Christmas collection for the homeless in Coventry. Sir Tony Cunningham MP was our mentor and the mentoring experience was amazing for myself. Sir Tony managed to get us seats on the floor of the House of Commons while MPs were debating; we were sat in a special area usually designated for Ambassadors and visiting ministers from other countries which meant that we were seated on the same benches as MPs!

I now work in political communications with the consultancy MHP Communications.

Soleha Khawar

University of East London 2010 – 2011

I signed up for ParliaMentors because I perceived it as a leadership programme that could equip me with skills to be able to make tangible social change within mycommunity.

Our project was called Re-Focus, the aim of this project was to ‘re-focus’ the lens on religious conflicts and highlight the positive examples of religious cohesion. The re-focus project was broken up into four days over course of the week and one of the days involved hosting a public panel discussion, I hosted this event and it helped me become comfortable with public speaking.

My mentor was Conservative MP Karen Lumley. The mentoring experience was insightful and very interesting as I got to see what the day to day life of an MP is like and how they relate to their constituents.

I went on to set up my own social action project in 2012- which is called Streethands. Streethands is a voluntary organization supporting children experiencing domestic violence.

Talia Chain

University College London 2010 – 2011

I wanted to get involved in a project where people from different faiths joined together so ParliaMentors seemed perfect.

My team created a photographic exhibition to raise awareness around the issues of human trafficking. Our team had heard of human trafficking but we had no idea how prevalent the issue is. We learnt much about the topic and it inspired us to start the project

Our mentor was Stephen Twigg MP. He sat with us and took the time to listen to our project which was so inspiring and helped our exhibition become a charity called Red Light Campaign.

We now have a team with 5 trustees and countless young and dedicated volunteers driven by supporting the work of Red Light Campaign, to raise awareness about Human Trafficking and support survivors.

Yoni Amias

University of Birminham 2009 – 2010

I joined this programme because it seemed a perfect example of how Britain can draw on its rich source of ethnic diversity and encourage interaction between different faiths, I wasn’t disappointed.

We established the ‘Instruments for Peace’ event at our Birmingham campuses. After hearing a constant stream of negative news from Israel and Palestine, we felt we needed to hold more constructive events that encourage both sides to meet, discuss and understand each other better.

Gisela Stuart MP for Birmingham Edgbaston was our mentor. She served as a great sounding board when brainstorming ideas for our Social Action Project.

After graduating from ParliaMentors I worked as a trainee in the Middle East department at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and at the European Union respectively. I also worked as a Development Director for two international charities that are based in the region, I now work for a leading hedge fund though my proudest moment was collaborating with a fellow ParliaMentors Alumni to set up a school in Bangladesh.

Cllr. Hashim Bhatti

Royal Holloway University of London 2008 – 2009

ParliaMentors for me, represented a once in a lifetime chance of being able to access the corridors of power.

I was mentored by the then Shadow Minister for Health, Anne Milton MP. It was an invaluable experience, I met her in Parliament almost monthly and she was always engaged with the project and gave us good guidance. I also shadowed her in Parliament and at her constituency. My fondest memory was meeting former Prime Minister David Cameron who at the time was in opposition.

After ParliaMentors I worked for corporate law firm and was the firstt British Pakistani Conservative Councillor in history to get selected in Windsor by the party. I am currently on the ParliaMentors Alumni Network and a global Ambassador for Care Pakistan.

Anna Connell-Smith

Royal Holloway University of London 2010 – 2011

I applied for ParliaMentors because I wanted to find a way to help connect my own community and learn more about practical politics to help me decide my career path.

My team set up an interfaith pen pal scheme. This brought together Muslim, Christian and Jewish youth groups and supported them to write letters to each other. We were mentored by Iain Duncan Smith and spent a day in the Department of Work and Pensions as well as in the Centre for Social Justice think tank.

After finishing ParliaMentors I completed a five week internship at the Centre for Social Justice, and worked in education policy. I now work in the House of Commons as a Committee Specialist on the Education Select Committee and while I was on the ParliaMentors Alumni Committee I helped to develop the Inaugural Interfaith Summit.

Ali Shafiq

Nottingham Trent University 2015 – 2016

I was initially uncertain about joining ParliaMentors as a final year law student, I had a lot to do, although a friendly conversation with the 3FF Team made me decide it was an opportunity not to be missed!

My team’s project was based on breaking barriers discussing integration and valuing differences.

My MP mentor was Mark Spencer. We met Mark frequently during the year and he offered us really valuable advice on our project as well as getting into politics.

I’m currently on the Teach First Leadership Development Program working full time as a computing teacher in a school in Birmingham.

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